It’s fairly easy to look at your current staff of collectors and identify who is uccessful and who is not. This
determination is likely based on a
combination of actual collections,
compliance, teamwork, dependability,
and perhaps some other characteristics.
What’s more difficult is looking at a
group of candidates who have applied for
your collection jobs, and identifying who
will be successful, if hired, and who will
not. What characteristics differentiate
the superstar collectors from the
Achievement & Reward Orientation
Successful debt collectors are
motivated to achieve and exceed goals—
goals that someone else has likely set for
them, and goals that are likely tied to
some sort of incentive.
These goals might be rooted in
collection rates, compliance standards,
call monitoring ratings, call time or any
number of other standards.
The whole notion of, “The harder I
work or the better my performance, the
more rewards I earn,” simply does not
motivate some people—that is not what
makes them tick. As an agency leader, you
need employees who are motivated by
the reward structure you have in place.
Just like good employees in virtually
any job, successful debt collectors are
reliable, industrious and persistent.
They understand the importance of
showing up for work, on time, every day.
When they are at work, they are
there to work rather than talk with coworkers. It is difficult for collectors to
produce if they are either not at work or
view work as a chance to catch up with
Highly successful collectors are
quick-thinking, alert and able to juggle
multiple priorities simultaneously. They
can listen to what someone is saying on
the telephone while simultaneously
reading through account notes and
Similarly, they can pick up on what
someone is telling them verbally and
quickly integrate this information with
what they already know.
A collector’s job is difficult—this
is not news to anyone. All day,
collectors attempt to make contact
with consumers, and often have
difficult conversations with people
who do not necessarily want to talk
To be successful, collectors need
to remain calm, even when dealing
with difficult situations or difficult
people. In light of the increased
regulations surrounding the
collection industry, agency leaders
cannot afford to have employees
who lose their temper with
What Makes a Good Collector?
Identifying the characteristics behind superstar collectors can help streamline your hiring process
consumers—even when they are
Finally, successful collectors remain
cautiously optimistic, and recognize that,
as cliched as it sounds, sometimes bad
things really do happen to good people.
Not everyone is trying to get out of
paying a debt. The successful debt
collector can effectively separate fact
Successful collectors believe that
anything can be negotiated, and that it is
simply a matter of asking the right
questions and finding the right solution.
They are assertive—not aggressive—
while still being professional, and they
continue to probe into possible solutions
with consumers until they find a solution
that works for everyone.
This is in contrast to a collector who
thinks, “They said that they can’t pay their
bill, so I guess they can’t pay their bill.”
But these characteristics do describe the
work habits and motivational tendencies of
highly successful collectors. While it is
certainly possible for people who differ
from the profile described here to be
satisfactory collectors, they will most likely
not be one of your superstars. cm
Dr. Brad Chambers is senior vice
president and chief operating officer of
Polaris Assessment Systems. He can be
By Brad A. Chambers, Ph.D.