Have you heard the fairy tale about the lovely princess who loses her golden ball in the pond, only to have an ugly frog offer to get it if she’ll be his companion? She agrees, but then realizes that she’s stuck herself with a frog for a companion, and isn’t so happy about it. Nonetheless, she reluctantly lets him eat and sleep with her, only to wake up and find that he’s actually a handsome prince who was under a spell. Whew! Lucky break for her.
Everyone wants to find the right partner. But, as it’s often said, you might have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a handsome prince.
Choosing a good debts collection agency can be like that, too. You need to find the right partner, but the search can seem like wading through a muddy pond, thanks to the bad practices used by a few unethical organizations. Into the muck you wade, inexpertly sizing up the frogs you see, finally kissing one (blech!), and… nothing, no prince, no benefit of any kind.
There are some things you can look for, though, to help ensure you’ve found a real prince and not just another frog. In our previous post on how to choose the right debt collection agency, we advised you to check their reputation, their associations and affiliations, and the level of training they provide their agents.
That’s a great start, but if you’re potentially going to kiss a frog, you need to take extra precautions so you don’t get slimed! So here are four more ways to help you figure out whether you’ve found an enchanted prince among the frogs… before you kiss him.
Frogs are not inherently charming, but princes certainly are!
No one likes to be treated rudely or be forced to wait through long hold times. How does your collection agency treat you and your clients? Is the company courteous, professional, and responsive? Can you easily find out what’s going on with your accounts? Do they go the extra mile on customer service? If they say they do, ask them to tell you how. (Some collection agencies go so far as to send thank-you notes out after payment is received.)
A positive approach is essential in a profitable, long-term relationship. If your agency doesn’t have it, throw them back in the pond.
Frogs don’t know how to use technology well, but princes do. A modern-day enchanted prince would probably be longing to return to human form so he get can back to the fast connections, instant data access, and immediate communication that technology offers.
Similarly, princely collection agencies will always be looking at ways technology can be used to improve efficiency and better help you and your clients. Ask your potential agency about any specialized software, computerized phone systems, and online services they offer. They’ll either jump at the chance to tell you all the great ways they use technology, or jump back into their pond to hide.
In most fairy tales, the prince has to overcome multiple obstacles to win the day. This requires him to have diverse skills to draw from and the knowledge and flexibility to use the right skill at the right time.
Does your collection agency take the same approach with every customer, or are they flexible? For example, do they offer a variety of payment options? A tough economy means greater unemployment and higher delinquency rates. A genuine desire to help your clients, and having many options to offer them, can make a significant difference in recovery.
Your business is your castle. Slimy frogs simply are not welcome in castles.
Similarly, slimy agencies should not be welcome in your business. This is even more true if your line of work is regulated. Health care industry professionals, for example, should be especially cautious when selecting a collection agency to ensure continuing compliance with regulations like HIPAA. Additional sensitivity toward clients is also needed in health care collections. A frog will leave a trail of slime to clean up, but a real prince will handle such niceties with aplomb.
We’ve given you seven ways to tell if you’re about to kiss a frog or a handsome prince. (Check their reputation, associations/affiliations, training, client relationships, use of technology, flexibility in handling situations, and market knowledge.) Now when you wade into the pond, you’re much more likely make the right choice!
Still hesitant about that kiss? Here are some additional resources to help you find your happily-ever-after!