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Carol Byrne | 28 November, 2023

Embracing Fairness in Debt Recovery

Collecting Thoughts is C&R Software’s new podcast, presenting conversations with subject matter experts and insiders throughout the finance, software, and collections industries. 

The collections industry is familiar but constantly evolving, like many others. With several decades under his belt in the collections industry, Christ Petrewski had plenty of stories to tell, thoughts, and wisdom about the industry. 

Christina sits down with Chris to learn more about how he got into collections in the first place and to talk about the side of collections most people need to see. 

Listen on Spotify here.

Listen on Apple here.

 

Who is Chris Petrewski?

Before Chris began his career in collections, he had a strong career in sales and marketing, particularly with sports teams. When he says he stumbled into his collections career, he wasn't kidding. After feeling burnt out doing sales, he decided to apply for a collections position at UPS, and the rest is history. 

Chris talks about how he dove head first into dialing the phone and learning everything he could about collections and how to succeed as a collector. Within six months of starting at UPS, he was a collections lead and continued moving up the ladder quickly. 

While taking in everything his management team could teach him about collections and combining it with his sales experience, Chris was able to find his groove and build relationships with customers while still helping people settle their debts. 

One piece of advice that Chris' manager taught him when he was first getting started was always to get a date for when they would pay. Remembering, "As soon as possible or someday is not a date on the calendar," helped propel his career forward. 

How the Collections Industry Has Evolved

Since Chris has over two decades of experience working in collections, he's one of the best people to elaborate on how the industry has evolved. Everything was documented with a pen (or pencil) and paper when he first started. 

He and other collectors would spend hours dialing customers rapidly while documenting everything by hand. The main thing besides how they would establish contact with customers is that the focus was on dialing. 

Over time, UPS and other companies started using software for electronic documentation, but the industry's primary goal was to make the calls. Things began to change when we started accessing more communication channels. 

Collectors have started using other methods like emails, social media, and texting to communicate with customers besides just dialing their phone numbers. Dialing remained important, but now collectors can access automatic dialers to help them call customers more efficiently. 

Now, collectors can use specific collection or finance systems that help them efficiently track customers and debts. Many of these programs will show different data sets, allowing collectors to see which customers they need to prioritize quickly. 

Sales and Collections

Technology has evolved a great deal, but the one thing that Chris says changed within him was how he approached collections. With a sales background, there is one main similarity between the two. They're all about building and maintaining relationships.

Chris spoke about how when collectors are involved with the customer from the beginning, they're far more likely to settle their debt because they have a relationship with the collector. Not only is it generally easier to get people to pay what they owe, but it also makes the experience more pleasant for the collector. 

With all the new technology collectors can use, Chris says that only some of the best software will be better than simple customer relationship-building. 

How Collectors Can Help With Brand Loyalty

Many people need to understand how collectors can play a role in fostering brand loyalty. Since the best collectors will try to build relationships with their customers, it can help them feel more comfortable with the collectors and remain loyal to the company. 

When customers know and trust the person on the other end of the phone, they're more likely to cooperate, pay their debts, and continue working with the company. Chris has succeeded in the collections industry by building a relationship with customers early on, as before when they signed their sales contract. 

Speaking with them early lays the groundwork, and expectations can be set on both sides. 

Once the customer understands the expectations that they'll be speaking with this same person when it comes time to pay, they'll feel more comfortable, and the company's brand loyalty will increase. 

The One Thing Chris Petrewski Wants You To Know

Chris is all about relationship building, which he's great at. Being able to learn more about the collections industry through his first-hand experience is something everyone can benefit from. 

Before the end of our conversation, I asked Chris if there was anything else he wanted listeners to know. He mainly wanted to share that collectors and collections managers aren't there to "shake you down." They're here to help a business grow and succeed, which involves paying bills. 

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