With special guest: Robin Prince
In today’s edition of Learning with AI Lean, we sit down with our longtime colleague and advisor Robin Prince. Robin has spent all her life in collections and manages daily over 200 collectors collecting on all types of credits. She started from the bottom of the chain when she was in her twenties and today is VP of Operations at Credit Management Company. In this interview she shares some of her tips and advice gained over the years. Read on and let us know what you think, and your own tips, too.
“Be first on the debt”
AI Lean: Hi Robin, thanks for sitting down with us! We are officially in Q2, 2023. How are things looking in the collection world? What are the main focuses and concerns?
Robin: Collections started off slowly in Q1, but many in the industry saw a turn near the end of February and into March. April continues to see that trend staying relatively steady. We have also seen an uptick in accounts being placed for collections. This is a sign of the times, for certain. The main focus is the ability to manage the higher number of accounts and dollars being placed by hiring and maintaining staff. As with all industries, it is crucial to treat employees with respect and drive turnover down.
AI Lean: What indicators do you look at to gauge the state of the economy and how hard it might be to collect from consumers or commercial entities? How are these indicators looking for Q2?
Robin: Aside from a slower tax season than typical, the state of the economy continues to be a major cause of concern in the collection’s industry. The indicators we find most impactful are the interest rates, rising food prices, rising utilities’ costs, and other basic need items, whose prices continue to climb with little relief in sight. This gives consumers and commercial entities less and less cash on hand to pay debts. We also see more people holding tight to their wallets and attempting to save in case of a crash in the future.
AI Lean: From a senior collector executive perspective, what is your recommendation to employees with a collection responsibility?
Robin: No matter what the economy, collectors always have a job to do, and an important one at that. In times of good economies, we see more people paying their debts and in times of tough economies, we see more people that owe those debts. Collectors keep that money flowing in the society.
AI Lean: Can you explain the concept of “first on the debt?
Robin: Yes, it is imperative to be on the consumer’s radar for debt resolution. Since there is less disposable cash in the consumer’s reach, the entity that reaches the consumer first, may be the only one that gets paid.
AI Lean: Early collections is customer service. Can you explain how to implement this idea?
Robin: Early collections, also called pre-collect, is a process in which we proactively reach out to consumers before their bill becomes due. This is a courtesy type call during which we ask consumers if they need help understanding their outstanding balance and/or if they anticipate an issue with paying the amount due. We offer payment plans and extensions, etc. to assist the consumer in staying current with their obligation.
AI Lean: What is the most effective collections channel?
Robin: We consider outbound dialing to still be the most effective way to reach consumers. The big talk in the industry is around “consumer’s preferred method of communication”. Obtaining this from the start of the relationship with the consumer (example – texting, emailing or telephone) sets up the strategy in which the consumer has told you works best for them.
AI Lean: Robin, thank you so much for these useful insights on debt collection! We found what you said about “first on the debt” to be particularly impactful. It is an important reminder to ourselves and our community that we are not the only ones out there chasing debt, and that to be successful collectors we must push hard in the race to get there first. Early collection efforts are key! Thank you again for your time and we can’t wait to speak again soon.