Lighthouse Consulting’s Jamaican Call Centres Provide Disaster Assistance To Hurricane Stricken Collection Agencies in the USA

Following Hurricanes Irma and Harvey many debt collection agencies and many other call centre operations have been disrupted. Yes most had or have a disaster plan and can move seats to another location or maybe another city but this is past a weather disaster, it is actually a much bigger problem for the agencies and call centres pocketbooks. These effected companies will, thanks to their disaster  recovery plans keep servicing their clients but the profits will disappear and if the outage continues the money loss will be the massive disaster that drowns the company in debt.

Lighthouse Consulting is here to provide financial relief to those effected agencies and call centres. 

Lighthouse Consulting can help you open an office in sunny Jamaica and have it up and running in weeks. It will be your office not an outsource situation. I can make it a turnkey operation for you, all you need to provide is staff training, a cloud based system and money. I can even guarantee the cost to be consistent and that cost can be as low as $10 hourly including the staff, computers, internet, chairs, cubicles and everything else needed to do business from the island. Thats just $400 a week per staff member.

This is not just a temporary solution its a business strategy that many collection agencies are embracing. And remember the hurricane season for 2017 will be over in a couple weeks. Lighthouse Consulting has been helping agencies set up their own call centres in  Jamaica over the last 2 years and we have created an ease of entry and a program that handles all the government paperwork for you.

I know you have question so click here to see the 3 most asked questions about Jamaican Call Centres.

Click here to explore the costs in a little more detail

Or just email me at phil@lighthouseconsultinginc.com or call me at 305-853-8773 to get started.

How Do You Pick Out The Great Negotiators In Your Staff? By Their Personality Traits Of Course.

What is it that makes a great negotiator? Why does one person always outperform the others in the staff? Its their personality!

Many articles and books have been written about how to negotiate more effectively but the advice they offer is often difficult to apply.

Research in personality traits provides help in predicting an individual’s ability to negotiate effectively but often the traits are both a benefit and a hindrance at the same time. That isn’t to say people can’t get better at it, but their success will depend on their ability to understand their own and the other party’s personality.

The most influential trait is emotional intelligence. Despite emotional intelligence’s relatively recent appearance in personality traits its one of the highest googled traits today. A recent study by Wharton and MIT professors states that people with higher emotional intelligence are more likely to create  positive mood states in their negotiation counterparts and leave them more satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation.

Emotional intelligence also translates into a favourable  outcome regardless of the objective result. Even more important, emotional intelligence is linked to higher levels of likeablity and self awareness a powerful combination when it comes to difficult negotiations.

Another trait that has shown a strong indication to negotiation skills is a higher IQ.  While one would obviously expect IQ to boost negotiation performance, the research also revealed a more surprising finding: People with higher IQs tend to approach negotiations in a more collaborative way, treating their negotiation counterpart as a partner and embracing win win strategies that lead to both parties satisfaction.

Self-centered people who believe they can “just be themselves” and disregard other people’s needs and desires of them are often praised for their confidence and self-belief. The reality is that those people will miss out on social clues, negative feedback, and the ability to connect. All of this will highly handicap them during a negotiation.

Machiavellianism, a dark-side personality trait associated with a tendency to manipulate and exploit others and behave in risky and antisocial ways, motivates individuals to initiate negotiations and predicts strong negotiation tactics. Evidence suggests that Machiavellians actually do worse in negotiations, perhaps for being overly aggressive.

In order to control our personality, we need to be aware of it, so it is pivotal to understand what our default negotiation tendencies are if we are interested in changing them, or at least inhibiting them during negotiations.

Being aware of your personality will enable you to leverage your own style in situations that are a good fit for it, for talent is largely personality in the right place.

These are all things I teach in training classes with advanced collection agents and lawyers. If you desire more info on the Lighthouse Training and Development Programs contact Phillip W. Duff at phil@lighthouseconsultonginc.com

If Your Afraid Of Getting A Bad Apple Don’t Go To The Barrel Go Directly To The Tree

This is a quote from the movie “Untouchables” and in one part of the movie they were talking about being able to find cops who were not corrupt. Today many creditors, collection agencies and law firms are having trouble with staffing for many reasons, one of the biggest is employees come with too many bad habits. Most companies want to hire experienced debt collectors or at least staff experienced in some type of call center work and that is just like getting an apple from the barrel, it may be a bad apple. The reason that the companies go to the barrel instead of the tree is because they lack a proper and effective training program.

When I go do my consulting and I am in the initial stages I ask about the training programs of the company and I never hear “we have a great program let me show you”. I hear things like “we do a lot of side by side training” or “we have a week long training program that everyone completes”. Why don’t you have a training program I ask, one that is ongoing forever and has the ability to develop the staff not just train them? And they look like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck.

The problem lies in the fact that most companies do not believe that the investment in training and development will actually pay off and secondly they just don’t know how to create such an extensive program.

The cost to create the program is actually not the problem for most agencies it’s taking one of the three people who can write it and giving them the 6 months needed to create the program. In most cases the few people in the company with the overall knowledge to write this type document are the people who keep the company running daily. If they cease doing their daily tasks to write the document the company will suffer financially and operationally. What you need a complete program that you can adjust to meet your companies policies.

Well your lucky because Lighthouse Consulting has created extensive staff development programs over the years and we can help you to create one that will reduce your turnover and increase the skill level of your staff.

If you see the value in training and development contact me for a sample of the Lighthouse Staff Development program and you’ll see the value quickly.

Phillip W. Duff 305-853-8773

It’s Good To Be Crazy, It Opens Up So Many More Options

I have been called many things in my career and crazy was included. I have always looked at problems differently even when I was a child. My first job at age 15 was in a donut shop and I told the owner on the second day of my employment that he should move the machines closer together to reduce the mess on the floor and reduce lost icing which is what was all over the floor that was my job to clean. Of course he looked at me with the eyes of an adult being told what to do by a snotty nosed kid that was working for $2.25 hourly. But two weeks later he moved the equipment just as I suggested.

It was quite crazy to tell your boss how to run his business but thats what I have been doing ever since. As a consultant to the debt collection industry my job is to tell successful business owners how they can be more successful. To tell them how they can improve their processes and strategies to reduce costs and increase collections. You have to be crazy to tell a collection agency owner how he has left money on the table, how he has failed in spite of his success. Its a fine line.

But the truth is doing debt collection the way we were all taught by the masters will no longer work. The business has changed so much that just making the calls will not result in the best results. You have to have a strategy and and great technology in place.

What I find in most engagements is that the agency has the view of the technology they need but they do not have the expertise to set up the strategies. For example most agencies have realised that a self cure strategy must exist so they spent lots of time looking at online payment sites and then picked one because of some features they saw in the demo. But when they set up the technology and begin to use it they do not get the results they are looking for. The problem is in most cases the way they set up the technology. The most common mistake I see starts with the login for the debtor. Recently when looking at a new clients pay site records I noticed that 45% of the people who came to the site abandoned because they could not log in. They agency was requiring that the debtor have the account number to login and many debtors did not have the letter in front of them. Also most of the debtors were on cell phones and the site was clunky on a cell phone interface. I had them change the login to their last name and last 4 of their SSN and the abandonment rate reduced to 8% from 45%.

So todays strategies are outside the box we were taught by the masters. They also include things that the old school collectors never imagined, emails, voice mail drops, messages on hold music, text messages, social media and so much more. Creating all these stratagies to get the debtor to login and pay online are new to the industry and do not fit the methods of normal debt collection. What should the email say and not say? Is it best to dunn the debtor with an email or just lightly push them to login and explore payment options? This is where you need a professional.

I practically invented self cure and I have been helping agencies to set up the surrounding strategies that drive that debtor to the payment site. The wording and timing of emails, voice mail drops and other communications that follow a specific strategy are the most effective. I have been doing this longer than anyone so my failures have now driven my success in this field. I had to get crazy to figure the best strategies as the traditional collection tactics I was taught decades ago were not effective.

The second biggest mistake is not setting up the reporting to evaluate the strategies. If the debtor was sent a letter, received 2 phone messages and a voice mail drop which one was the strategy the made them go online and pay the balance in full? You need to know that to evaluate the strategies. Most pay sites are not connected to your system in a manner that these straggles are identified to a reporting system. I can help you cover those gaps so you can get the data.

Are you getting the best results you can from your self cure strategies? Need a tune up? Lighthouse Consulting is the answer. Just a 5% increase in online payments can mean thousands of dollars of profit more each week for most agencies.

Give Phillip w. Duff a call at 305-853-8773 for more info my services.

It’s not how you skin the rabbit, it’s how the rabbits fur grows back.

Well first of all I do not suggest you try to skin a rabbit thats alive so don’t send me letters. But there some meaning in this statement like many folk sayings across the US. If you are in the debt collection industry this relates to your business like this.

The biggest change in the debt collection industry over the last few years are the strategies used to collect the money. In the past the industry had 2 clear channels to get payments from, mail and phone so they sent letters and made phone calls. Well anyone in the industry today knows that letters do not collect near the numbers that did even 10 years ago and phone calls have so many compliance issues its hard to justify making that outbound call to a debtor.

So we have created more ways or channels for the consumer to pay. We have changed how we skin the rabbit because we need a sustainable business model. The debt collection industry has adopted self cure options to allow the rabbit to skin itself. So with a website that allows the consumer to go online 24/7 and pay their bill without any human interaction has allowed the consumer to skin themselves. And if we have done a good job they will continue to enjoy the experience of self skinning and will do it again and again. The self skinning allows the consumer to grow back the fur and then come back again for a trim without all the phone calls and letters.

So now if you want to be the most successful you can be you must perfect your self cure strategies so the consumer returns or so the consumer completes the transaction. Your payment site and all leading up that first consumer log in have to all be the best strategies possible these days as you may only get one chance to get this consumer to self cure.

Lighthouse Consulting created self cure and has the industry embrace it. If your interested in how to build a best rabbit self skinner in the industry you must talk to Lighthouse Consulting. Call Phil at 904-687-1687 now.

Lighthouse Consulting Goes International

PRESS RELEASE June 1, 2017

Phillip W. Duff, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Consulting, is pleased to announce the appointment of Karl Graham as Vice President of Caribbean Operations.

Mr. Graham has a long history of Call Center success in the United States and the Caribbean having worked in executive positions for major US Fortune 500 companies and also working in Jamaica for the last 10 years as Vice President to the Caribbean’s largest call center.

Mr. Graham will be tasked with managing call centers and creating partner relationships for the clients of Lighthouse Consulting. Mr. Phillip W. Duff the CEO of Lighthouse Consulting stated “As our clients are more and more using the options provided by Lighthouse Consulting we saw the need for quality management and I was able to convince Karl to come on board.”

Mr. Graham stated “The offer from Mr. Duff to help Lighthouse Consulting manage their seats in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean was one I did not have to consider very long. This is a great opportunity for me, Lighthouse Consulting, their clients and all the Caribbean people we will bring quality jobs to.”

Lighthouse Consulting would like to announce the opening of its new International offices in Jamaica, West Indies. In an effort to meet its client’s needs, Lighthouse has opened offices that will handle all Caribbean operations and allow Lighthouse to better serve its International clients. Business offices in both Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica have been recently opened. Lighthouse Consulting is helping International companies to reduce labor rates and increase levels liquidation. The initial interest has been from ARM companies, debt buyers and creditors but Lighthouse Consulting is also servicing first party clients.

Lighthouse Consulting provides near shore consulting and seat management for its clients looking for reduced labor costs. By managing the island labor as a value added service for its clients the ROI stays high and the clients stay satisfied. As profits get squeezed in the US near shore labor becomes a better option for many businesses but managing the process is a learning curve straightened by Lighthouse Consulting and it’s near shore operations.

Did the birth of the “consumer” and the death of the “debtor” kill the debt collection industry?

As the debt collection industry has tried to be more consumer friendly we changed our vocabulary from “debtor” to “consumer”. How has that also changed the industries mindset? Is it a good thing?

I think not.

It was hard for me to change my vocabulary a couple years ago but it was willingly I did so. As the market started using the word consumer over the word debtor it seemed appropriate. But the longer this has been in effect the more and more I see it affecting the mindset of collectors, managers and owners in a negative way. Consumer lawyers (maybe we should call them debtor lawyers) are why we changed our tune but I think we should have kept the word debtor, its not a bad word.

Somehow the word debtor became a bad word and I am not sure why?

Wikipedia defines a debtor as “If X borrowed money from his/her bank, X is the debtor and the bank is the creditor. If X puts money in the bank, X is the creditor and the bank is the debtor.” and defines a consumer as “The consumer is the one who pays to consume goods and services produced.”

If this is the definition to both words they are debtors not consumers, consumers “pay to consume”,

So why did a whole industry change its vocabulary?  

The truth is we did it from pressure we created on ourselves as an industry. We thought its would make us look more consumer friendly in the eyes of regulators, clients and potential clients. But was this a good thing? I think it has gotten too many collectors and even managers in a mid set that the debtor is right and the collection strategy is the bad factor.

The truth is that debt collection has been getting more and more consumer friendly since I began collecting in 1979. But it has gotten to a high point in 2016 in my opinion. Debt collection has changed to accommodate the consumers’ habits by moving to self-cure websites and IVR systems.

The birth of self-cure 

The birth of debtors curing their debt online with no human interaction is a positive result of the consumer mentality of debt collection. It has allowed agencies and law firms to reduce its compliance exposure and collection expenses by letting the debtor pay online. Most debtors do not really desire to talk to a debt collector when it comes time to pay they just want to make the transaction online. So the use of a payment site is the obvious answer and a best thing to come from the consumer friendly era created by consumer attorneys.

Now what? 

I think as an industry we need to remember that that are both debtors and consumers. Actually our job as an industry is to turn them from debtors into consumers. We have to treat them like consumers but remember that they are debtors till they pay the debt and they need to be handled like debtors.

The fact that our industry has made the effort to allow the debtors to self-cure by creating elaborate payment sites shows our ability to adapt to the consumer model but we still have to remember that most debtors need help to pay their obligations. They need financial counseling, just the push a call makes or they need a payment arrangement that the website cannot approve for them.

Lets remember they are debtors and need our help to pay their bills and become consumers.

My thoughts and observations from the recent DBA conference

Well it was the 20th conference for the debt buyers and it was well attended and was upbeat for a change. As I usually do here is my thoughts and observations firm the conference.

People

Well the players are changing along with the name of the association. As new debt buyers emerge the look of the DBA will also evolve into something that can survive in today debt purchase marketplace. The attitude of the people attending was much more upbeat that the last few years and this I will attribute to Trump.

Many of the people I have talked to during the conference have confirmed that they are much more optimistic than past years just due to the change in Presidents. People who I know had gotten out of the business and not attended the conference recently were back with smiles.

New

There was lots of talking about changes in the industry like Discover requiring partners to take payments away form the call recording devices to reduce the possibility of that call recording system being hacked and credit card info being available in the recordings. Patient financing for the healthcare agencies and buyers in the new thing as well. I meet a guy who is buying medical debt and forgiving it. The company is a charity and takes donations.

There was lots of talk about self cure processes and near shore shops. Both vendors, agencies and debt buyers are now moving processes and agents to near shore call centers with Jamaica being the prime location.

Vendors

The overall vendor attendance was low but the main players were all there. Stratics had the oversized booth that stuck out like a red headed step child. This proves there is a war for clients coming in the ringless voice mail segment currently owed by Vo Apps. This contact method for cell phones is defiantly the cheapest method to reach cell phones.

The vendors all seemed to be busy during the cocktail hours and lunches but not much traffic otherwise.

Conclusions

The debt purchase industry is reinventing itself and the people involved are positive it will work. The old school debt buyers are retiring and moving on to their next career or golf game. The vendors are all suffering as the overall volume of business is down 20%. The industry will continue to embrace technology and reduced labor costs to collect money and the industry will evolve to meet the challenges.

How do you create and sustain increases in efficiency and performance in todays ARM marketplace?

When a business starts up it’s generally amazingly efficient, you must be as they do not have the resources and client base to survive in any other manner. Growth leads to decreased efficiency and performance. There are three principal reasons for these changes.

Changes in the business environment- competition, technology and market changes all affect the way you do business.
 Increased complexity- the more employees systems and services after the confusion levels.
And resistance to change- which is a normal human reaction.

Each of these conditions reflects the same core issues, performance is deficient and improvements or not sustainable. To solve these problems we need a new structure to sustain the changes and produce the desired results.
If you want to sustain change you will have to develop a structure that can deliver the preferred results in a natural outcome of the improved processes. This can be obtained with a few leverage techniques in the buy in of your management team.

The processes are the problem and the solution

A business as a sole of it’s processes they are complex and often need improvement processes create results good or bad and your processes may be the solution to increased efficiency in your business the question is how to create sustainable changes.

Desired performance versus actual performance

How we create the desired performance daily? This can be obtained by creating sustainable changes within the process of your business. This changes difficult to achieve but with the correct balance within the management team and employees preferred performance can exist.

Your existing processes of the solution and when improve in a manner that creates the results solve automatically or as a byproduct of the processes the results will then be sustainable. The processes have a structure defined by the interaction of its components the structure is more powerful than any employees ability to impact it. Structure and processes drive to your performance.

The best way to achieve this change of structure is with changes in your current processes. These changes must be planned in developed it before messages I her levels. In order to achieve this you may need to improve or re-create your current processes and this may take an external force to help create new structures as changes are more difficult to sustain without the correct procedure in place.

How can technology create sustainable improvements?

Since processes are a big part of todays work flows we need to be able to control those processes and technology can do that. By using a platform that can help you define and control the business processes you have defined as best practices you will be able to sustain those improvements. Technology can block users from using another process and guarantee your process is adhered to.

Do you want to control your companies online reputation on all the top consumer review/complaint websites?

Lighthouse Consulting aggregates your good and bad consumer reviews from over 100 websites like Facebook, BBB, Twitter, Pissed Consumer and Google so your company can easily monitor what your customers are saying about you — in real-time!

You can hear every word stated about your business on Social media. Lighthouse Reputation Beacon is a service that automatically sends a review request to your company or the CEO’s cell phone, scoring new reviews for your business directly on Google and Facebook.

Lighthouse Reputation Beacon aggregates your reviews from top review sites. See what consumers are saying about your agency or law firm, in real-time.

With Lighthouse Reputation Beacon, your business can manage negative reviews with easy-to-use tools to address customer feedback quickly.  Your companies great reviews are collected from major sites are indexed by search engines for higher search ranking

Your positive reviews are auto-published to Facebook, Twitter, website, custom review site and 50+ consumer site.

You can generate a steady flow of positive reviews from your happy customers, via mobile, check-in, SMS & email campaign. And all the aggravated reviews are sent to you in real time so you can take action immediately.

With the Lighthouse Reputation Beacon, your business is found by search engines — accurately and up-to-date — across all the major consumer sites.

Lighthouse Reputation Beacon will generate and download ROI reports showing growth in reviews, ratings, traffic and ROI to support business decisions.

This service is very affordable, to learn more call Phillip W. Duff at 904-687-1687 X 101.