All of the founders of American Profit Recovery have spent decades working in leadership roles at nationwide collection agencies, so we’ve seen quite a bit. All of us have at least 25-plus years working in this field and we have seen the progress that any evolving industry has seen in that period of time.

There has no doubt been tremendous development and innovation in this industry and we feel it’s all been for the good of both the businesses that hire collection agencies and the consumers that we contact.

As an industry that has always been misunderstood by many and scrutinized more than others, it’s always important to share the positive movement that takes place on a regular basis both here and industry wide.

Debt collections have become more cordial

We won’t speak for every collection agency but what most in this industry understand is the way to collect a debt is to inject some tactful communications in the process. More and more collection agencies are quite frankly, being nice. And while many consumers on the receiving end of a collection call might not totally agree because they don’t like the situation there are in, the fact is, respectful, diplomatic conversations are the way many companies are doing business.

For example here, our collectors try very hard to understand a person’s situation and come up with a resolution that all parties can agree to. It gets people communicating, keeps the relationship together and gets the bill paid. Every unpaid bill has its own unique circumstances and it is up to the collector to resolve that issue with grace. Plus, there is no reason to mistreat anyone during this process. Everyone should be treated with dignity.

Training is vital

Any reputable collection agency will invest tremendously in training their staff. Training is not optional in this day and most now recognize this. Training debt collectors encompasses many areas including laws and regulations, how to conduct a call with tact and respect and how to implement diplomacy during the communication. Collectors also as we mentioned above need to understand a consumer’s situation and analyze what is the best path forward to get the past due debt resolved.

An important part of our business here is to regularly review collection calls. Determine what went well and what could be improved on during the communication. Training here does not just take place with new hires. It is an ongoing process to always improve how we do our jobs.

Technology in debt collections

Technology has dramatically improved the debt collection process. Before, when you hired a collection agency, you would have to fax, that’s right, fax all your documentation about your late accounts to the agency. There are still agencies that are still doing it this way but many of us have adopted new technology. In our case, we use our own platform called APRweb which allows our clients to input new accounts and monitor progress any time of the day. It makes the collection process so much easier for a company. Other technologies and improvements are on the horizon as well including improved analytics, and other ways to predict consumer behavior.

Public relations

No one likes to be contacted by a debt collector. Although we have many consumers that thank our collectors for being so nice and accommodating, most do not want that call. And we do understand. They are in a situation that they do not want to be in; being in debt in some way.

For as long as we can remember, collection agencies would shy away from the spotlight. Or for that matter, any light at all. For a growing number of agencies, that has changed.

We all remember the segments on 20/20 or Dateline about the industry but what came out of that was more awareness about companies that were not holding themselves to higher standards. And that for the most part was a good thing. But many have lumped all of the industry into that category and that’s simply not true.

Our take is that we pretty much have an open door. If you spend time on our website or any of our social media channels, you can meet our staff, get to know them and understand that they are here to do a job and build a career.

The industry advocates such as ACA International have also done a much better job of shedding light on just how important the collection industry is to our economy. Our industry has pumped billions of dollars back into the economy each year and we employ thousands across the country. You might even say we have probably helped countless consumers from bad credit ratings because we help them meet their obligations.

Like any industry, there is always room for improvement and we’re no different. But the collection industry collectively has their eyes set on moving forward and constantly improving the way we do business and the reputation we have out in the public. We want to make it easier for both our clients and the customers they serve to do business in a way that helps each other.