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Carol Byrne | 14 July, 2023

[Podcast] Communicating Effectively with Gene Clark

C&R Software presents Collecting Thoughts. A podcast featuring conversations with industry experts and insiders throughout the finance, software, and collections industries.

On this episode, host Christina speaks with Gene Clark, the Director of Credit & Collections at OTR Wheel Engineering and innovator of off-road tire and wheel engineering technologies. We discussed how he’s felt “destined” to end up in the collections industry and the lessons he learned.

Listen on Spotify here.

Listen on Apple here.

Guest Profile

Name: Gene Clark

Profession: Director of Credit & Collections, OTR Wheel Engineering

Gene studied at Kennesaw State University, receiving his degree in finance before heading into the world of collections and credit.

Starting as a Credit and Collections specialist, he rose through the ranks of Credit Manager and Customer Service Supervisor before ending up where he is today—leading a team of collections specialists to ensure low delinquency rates and developing efficiency initiatives at OTR Wheel Engineering in Rome, Georgia.

Find Gene on LinkedIn.

Episode’s Key Points

Destined for Collections

For Gene, working in collections runs in the family. As a result, he felt the pull to the industry from early on—destiny, as he puts it. Working as an intern for his uncles’ collections agencies, he plied his trade assisting the collectors with their tasks.

“Initially, I never wanted to get into the industry because they focused on consumer collections… One of my customers from when I worked in banking recruited me to come work for their company as a collections specialist—I fell in love. Fell in love with commercial collections.

It almost became like a sport to me. You had your numbers; being a Finance major, numbers were always important to me. And it was just, ‘How low can I get my past due balance to be?’... And I’ve just been passionate about it ever since.”

The Importance of Excellent Customer Service

According to Gene, the customer service and collections team is as essential as any regarding an organization’s customer-facing staff. While sales teams and standard customer service representatives often are what first come to mind for an organization’s client experience success, he emphasizes the importance of the recovery team.

“You’ve got to have excellent customer service. You’ve got to make sure you’re a squeaky wheel enough so that people are willing to pay you to make you stop calling them, stop emailing them—but you don’t want to do it so much that they just refuse to do any business with you, and they hold those payments back.

So, there’s so much game aspect to it. And it’s, ‘How far can I push somebody to where they pay me first, and they put my check on the top of the stack?’ Versus, ‘I’ve pushed them too far… and they’re not gonna buy from us in the future.’”

Collections are a balancing act, as any debt recovery professional can tell you. It’s about recovering assets while acknowledging and respecting the human aspects of the interaction. Following Gene’s advice, it’s essential to use minor psychology.

Being Alert to Changes in Customer Behavior

We asked Gene to talk about how he approaches mitigating delinquency that’s proven effective, and he offered some insight. In his experience, a customer’s overall payment habits aren’t as important as changes to those habits.

“Being able to make a quick decision if a customer’s habits have changed is why it’s so hard to come up with a set credit policy.

You might have a customer who’s consistently paid within 5-10 days of invoice coming due—and then all of a sudden, 30, 45, 60 days late, you can’t get in touch with them at all—you’ve got to pull that trigger faster versus a customer that you know they’re always going to pay 30 or 45 days late. They’re always in communication with you.”

Gene has touched on something important here: such changes can indicate new circumstances that will affect the creditor’s relationship with the customer to a greater extent than, for example, continued late payments.

Learn more about Gene’s Work

To learn more about finance, software, and collections topics from insiders and experts like Gene, visit the C&R Software blog.

Find out more about what Gene has been up to and his past work by visiting his profile on LinkedIn.

Stay tuned for future episodes of Collecting Thoughts, where host Christina dives deep into more interviews with leaders across the debt recovery and software world.

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