Hi Everyone, 

It’s Hector here and as always, I greatly enjoy reading your emails. One email that really caught my eye was from a collector who works at a national office supply goods chain detailing the problem he is experiencing with the office set up and layout of the collectors’ stations.

As was explained, there are three other collectors in his section where they all share one small area where they can see and hear each other on the phone talking with past due customers. The person detailed the following problems:

  • Sometimes a collector’s voice may get loud and that can be heard in the background while in the midst of their own conversation.
  • Occasionally there are personal issues that the customer/debtor may be discussing with a collector and that conversation really should not be overheard heard by others. 
  • Collection and negotiation techniques are sometimes thwarted or stifled knowing that the others are listening and observing. 
  • As a point of fairness, the collectors would like their own private space just like all the other employees have. 

Despite these issues, the section manager feels that this layout is a productive way for the collectors to work because the collection energy and motivation become greater when each person can hear each other’s collection successes. 

This situation prompted me to think about several things as follows:

1) I can appreciate the section manager’s idea about having the collectors in one space since hearing one person’s positive collection outcomes could motivate others to try to do the same. If one collector is having consistent success, perhaps it’s because of their negotiating style, tone of the voice, delivery of the words, and/or the ability to forge a trusting relationship. In other words, hearing how one good collector is doing it could positively influence the others.  

2) At the same time, if there was a collector who was not having much success and not performing their collection activities in a professional, ethical or effective way, then the other collectors may be in a position to give that collector appropriate feedback. 

3) I believe that a problem does exist in which it’s not a good situation when the conversation of one collector can be heard in the background while another collector is on their own call. At a minimum, partitions should placed around each station and if that doesn’t work, then the space provided should be expanded to the extent that they won’t be on top of each other, letting each other’s conversations be overhead. On a personal note, I find it very annoying when I call the customer service line of some major companies and can clearly hear other conversations going on in the background. Accordingly, I feel it would be very inappropriate and counterproductive if one past due customer is able to hear another collector’s conversation. 

4) Should each collector have their own office is an important point of consideration, especially in view of all other employees having their own office space. There are several details about the company that I’m not aware of but if this is a possibility then my feeling is that giving each collector their own space may actually improve productivity by providing a better work environment. At a minimum, it would help to keep information of a confidential nature from being overheard. 

Can your collection calls be overheard by your co-workers?


Hector the Collector is a credit, collection, and human resources advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments (nseiverd@cmiweb.com) are most welcome!

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