My son once told me that we really should not have any “problems” in life. He explained the two types of problems we face – those we can solve and those we can not. Those we can solve, we go ahead and take care of them quickly. And the ones we can not solve? We ignore them and focus on something better! Simple advice that has always worked for me.
With regard to the FCC rulings, we made a conscious decision to wake a sleeping dog, and that dog got up and bit us hard. Yes, the new rules from the FCC present some painful, new challenges. While experts are predicting gloom and doom, we have to look for the silver lining. Of course there is opportunity and hope. Let’s just look at ourselves for a minute. We have not changed much in the last 10 years. We are an industry that is confident, professional, talented, important but also extremely reactive. We move at the speed of light when we are threatened, but at almost all other times are reactive, as opposed to being proactive. A little over 10 years ago, the FCC and Congress almost banned the use predictive dialers. The reason? Nuisance calls. And what were those? Phones that stopped ringing before you got to them, or “dead air” if you managed to get to the phone in time. Granted, the real culprit may have been the telemarketers, but did the collection industry do anything to clearly demonstrate that its autodialers did not make “nuisance calls”? No, we all know those problems still exist 10 years later!
So let’s look at this as our punishment for not reacting positively for 10 years as we could have and should have. Cigarettes are still killing people, and they may be more addictive than they were several years ago. But the tobacco companies did react. They spend enormous amounts on money on education and being good corporate citizens, and they are not getting sued. The “compliance problem” has been around for at least the last 2 years. Everyone has an opinion, and it has dominated conferences and collection magazines. But can you think of one visible decision the industry made and implemented to send a clear message that “We are responsible, and have changed”?
Common sense, and the ultimate goal of capitalism will win this battle. It always does. When call frequency in collections became an issue at state level a few years ago, big financial institutions defined strict guidelines to their collection agencies. “Count your calls and messages. We will set the limits. You have no margin for error”. Guess what? It worked. We did not lose business. We did not get sued. We either met the requirements, lost market share or paid penalties. Under threat, the good companies reacted quickly, met the requirements and moved on.
The collection industry is not going away. It will survive. There will be changes to the rulings. Sanity will prevail. Creditors can be held accountable for their agents’ actions. Does anyone believe that big business (who depend on the collection industry) is going to watch as sales or recoveries decline because the only way to contact a consumer is using mail or a rotary phone? As my son said, let’s tackle the problems we can. Let’s be more proactive. Let’s make some decisions. Let’s use attack as a form of defense. Let’s invest in superb technology. Let us advertise our accomplishments and successes. Let’s prove to everyone that we are as good as we say we are – that we care, are proactive and responsible. More than anything, let’s stop whining. It gets us nowhere. Let’s stop talking and do something now, or consider the possibility that five years from now, they will find another reason to get upset with us and do something about it.
Ranjan Dharmaraja / CEO
Quantrax Corporation Inc.