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It’s time for debt collection to get with the times

Debt collectors, let’s face it – even at the best of times, we’re hardly an industry which is popular with the wider public.

To be fair, it’s not hard to see why our industry gets a bad rap. At the time of writing, a quick search of our industry on Google News returns some disappointing results; harassment and deception of vulnerable consumers and targeting the ill. Quite simply, many debt collectors have an absolutely dreadful track record when it comes to the ethical aspects of their operations.

Traditional operators simply write this off this collateral damage as the price of doing business in a cut-throat industry. This begs a question – in a business world which is increasingly people-centric, have debt collectors fallen behind the times?

Personally, I think we’ve got a lot of room to improve as an industry.

Most large debt collection companies utilise offshore call centres to contact their debtors, which completely removes the potential for skilled mediation. Not only does this reduce the chance of a debt being repaid, but it also completely damages customer relationships, which in turn damages businesses.

Debt collectors shouldn’t feel obliged to rely on aggressive tactics, harassment and intimidation in order to achieve results. An ethical, problem-solving approach when dealing with debtors can prove far more effective in obtaining repayment (we use it ourselves to great effect!).

For the creditor, there’s also a huge benefit in such methods, which allow for positive (or at least civil) relationships to be maintained with the debtor. With concerns over reputation and relationship damage proving one of the biggest barriers to engaging a debt collector in Australia, there’s real benefit for agencies to adopt these practices.

Personally, I’m tired of seeing disappointing headlines in the news about debt collectors employing bad or illegal practices. For those of us still stuck in the past, it’s time to help the rest of us reinvent the way that we are viewed at large.

To those who are unwilling to change – prepare to be left behind.