The overall goal in dealing with consumers is to conduct ourselves as professionals, treat each consumer with the respect and dignity they deserve, and work with them to find the best solution for everyone. For more than 20 years, North American Recovery has excelled at having an almost zero complaint rate while still providing industry-leading recovery results—typically 300 to 400% higher than industry standards. It is a challenging prospect, but we accomplish it by having painstakingly thorough initial and on-going training programs. By hiring the best collectors, supervisors, and managers, and finally, by putting it all together in a system that just plain works. Here is how we do it:
We start by training our collectors to really listen to the consumer. Then, when we have enough information to understand that individual consumer’s unique situation, we work with them to find a mutually acceptable solution. During this process, we NEVER bully consumers; we treat them with respect. We never belittle a consumer or speak in a condescending manner. This high level of respect helps consumers feel comfortable with us. They know we are not attacking them personally; we are simply performing a job for our client. Our professional attitude, our non-confrontational approach, and the high level of respect we show for consumers all combine to reduce, if not completely eliminate, complaints.
In addition to our professional attitude toward the consumer, we give consumers an additional option to resolve their possible concerns. When a consumer feels that he or she is not making progress with the collector, our collectors will refer the consumer to our Supervisor Call Group. This group of collectors is made up of our top performers and most confident agents. On these calls, the supervisor listens carefully and only after they know the details surrounding the consumer’s unique situation, do they then offer solutions and options to assist the consumer. The supervisor's job is to resolve any concerns in our office so the consumer is 100% satisfied. These procedures help a consumer feel satisfied that we have adequately addressed his or her complaint. Resolving a consumer's frustration and concerns in a professional, respectful manner allows the consumer to move forward and make an arrangement to pay their account.
However, if, after our best efforts, a consumer calls your office and lodges a complaint, we encourage you to call us and listen to the recorded calls with the consumer. Why?
We have found that sometimes, even though we handled ourselves as professionals and showed the utmost respect for the consumer, the consumer wasn’t satisfied. We understand that we just can’t please every consumer. However, since we record our calls, you can listen to the actual conversations and feel confident we represented you in the best possible way. Offering this service helps us build a solid, long-term relationship with you. A critical part of our relationship with our clients is that you feel good about how we treat your consumers. Your ability to listen to our calls does just that.
Other collection agencies are reluctant to share their calls with a client because those agencies cannot guarantee their collectors are treating every consumer with professionalism. We don't have that concern. We do not pressure our collectors, so they do not feel the need to pressure the consumer. We pay our collectors very well and take care of them as employees. This means they work in a low-stress environment. That environment ensures they treat consumers with respect and know how to keep their composure when a consumer becomes upset or even belligerent or abusive.
Our business philosophy, the quality of people we hire, our rigorous initial and ongoing training programs, the type of people we hire, and our management style, all result in the most professional collectors around. And that helps us have an excellent complaint prevention program (while still maximizing our recovery rate).
However, in the rare instances when we do receive a complaint about a collector's conduct—whether by phone, letter, fax, or email—we immediately suspend all collection activity on that consumer's account and initiate an internal investigation. We need to make an important note here: While we ALWAYS respond to all external complaints, we do not necessarily wait for a complaint from outside the company or even for a complaint call from a consumer before we initiate an investigation. It’s because of our regular and intense internal account audit process.
Because of the way we regularly audit all collectors' work, we will proactively discover situations that fall under the "complaint" category long before we receive an outside complaint from anyone. This internal review takes place when a supervisor conducts his daily audit of a collector's work. This proactive approach to dealing with potential complaint situations illustrates one of the literally hundreds of things we do every day to eliminate the potential for a client to receive a complaint.
If an investigation is warranted—whether from an internal audit or an external source—it begins with a complete review of all account notes, a review of the collection notices we have sent, and listening to every call we have ever made on the account—this includes calls to relatives, neighbors, friends, the consumer, the consumer's attorney, etc. After reviewing these items, the manager analyzes the validity of the complaint and categorizes the complaint into one of the three following groups:
- Intentional violation of company policy and/or collection laws
- Accidental violation of company policy and/or collection laws
- No violation of company policy and/or collection laws
After we know which category the complaint falls into, we take the appropriate action as described in each section below.
Intentional Violation of Company Policy and/or Collection Laws
Despite our best efforts in hiring, training, and taking care of an employee, sometimes good people make bad choices. When we determine a collector has intentionally violated company policy and/or any collection laws, we immediately terminate that collector. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the intentional violation of company policy and/or collection laws. We can’t give people a second chance when they intentionally violate our trust.
Accidental Violation of Company Policy and/or Collection Laws
We understand that people will occasionally make mistakes, and we handle these situations on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, the collection industry has stiff consequences for mistakes. Sometimes the consequences for an employee can also be stiff, even if the mistake was accidental. Our employees know this. Our employees understand the strict and litigious nature of the collection industry and the pitfalls that come with the job. We make them aware of the risks and potential penalties of being a collector immediately after we hire them.
An accidental violation can result in severe disciplinary action. However, we use our best judgment and administer an appropriate response based on the unique conditions of the situation.
An important note here: in an instance where a single employee has had multiple accidental violations, we might take this as an indicator that this employee may not be a good fit for this industry. If this is the case, we will terminate that employee. Again, we analyze the situation in as much detail as possible before we make a final decision.
No Violation of Company Policy and/or Collection Laws
Consumers are capable of trying anything to get out of paying a debt, even after we tell them we record all of our calls. Some consumers will even resort to making outlandish claims about a collector's conduct. If, after a thorough investigation, we determine a complaint has absolutely no merit, we will close our investigation and update the result as: No Violation Found. In these situations, we notify the collector of the complaint, discuss any possible techniques that might help them defuse a similar situation in the future, compliment them on the good work they did in following our policies, procedures, and collection laws, and discuss the next appropriate collection action.
We conduct thorough internal investigations of all consumer complaints. If we believe an individual situation warrants your involvement, we will immediately contact you to discuss the situation. We will then work with you through the entire process to ensure you are 100% satisfied with the outcome. We recognize that our working with you helps instill confidence in our operation. Doing this allows the two of us to have a productive relationship for many years to come. As the interaction between our organizations increases, you will get to know our highly qualified staff, our superior collection philosophy, and our specialized handling of complaints.
We have always stressed the importance of handling any allegation immediately; we believe our measures expedite the process and enable us to resolve any situation quickly and fairly. Our management and staff are acutely aware of the negative impact of complaints made by the public; this negative impact reflects upon the entire collection industry as well as its clients. Accordingly, all North American Recovery employees receive special and specific ongoing training in order to prevent complaints.
Since its inception, North American Recovery has never had its license suspended or had its doors closed for even one day due to censure for conduct (or any other reason), nor have we ever been asked to sign a cease-and-desist order or consent decree. You can have confidence that, when North American Recovery is collecting your accounts, we will do so in a professional, effective way while reducing complaints.