Stephanie Eidelman is CEO of The iA Institute, a media company that provides news, education, events and connection for stakeholders in the world of consumer credit and collections. A visionary and constant innovator, she has grown the company from its beginning as the publisher of a daily newsletter (insideARM) to one that influences the industry at the highest level. In addition to leading the iA team, Stephanie spends the lion's share of her time managing the Consumer Relations Consortium and the iA Innovation Council. These are membership groups that serve as think tanks and a forum for working collaboratively with a range of stakeholder groups to solve complex industry problems.
Prior to The iA Institute, Stephanie held various leadership positions in (or consulted for) media companies making the transition from print to online. Previously, she was a materials manager at aerospace manufacturer Allied Signal, and also a stage and production manager for The Walt Disney Company. Stephanie holds a BS from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.
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Are You Thinking Differently About Who Can Be Your Client?
I know that many collection agencies are scrambling to keep up with the changing state rules and client decisions about who is considered essential, whether agents can work remotely, and whether/under what circumstances you can engage in proactive outbound collection efforts. I have heard from numerous CEOs who say their main priority right now is keeping as many people employed as possible, for as long as possible.
I also know that so many public and private organizations are struggling to keep up with the increased volume of phone calls from consumers who need loans processed, unemployment claims processed, account information, public health information, or any number of other types of help.
The collection industry has thousands of trained call center agents, many of whom are now set up to work from home, who are idle or soon may become idle because they are not allowed to engage in collection efforts.
In addition to the roller coaster of changing rules I already mentioned, Members of Congress have proposed bills that, if passed, would put limitations on collection efforts for months following a declared disaster.
Are you taking the time to think differently about the types of services you could provide and who your clients could be?
Could your agents be trained to take those overflow unemployment calls? Could they answer questions for local hospitals or health departments? Could they help with overflow calls from your local utility company? Could they take calls for the federal government? The IRS? The CDC? Do you know what else is going to be needed a lot in the coming weeks/months? Contact tracers.
Professional collection agencies have a workforce of employees uniquely trained in matters of privacy, patience, empathy, and complex problem-solving. You are uniquely qualified to pivot in this chaotic time to provide a service that others can’t. If you haven’t done so already, I’d suggest giving this some serious consideration.