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How a Few Ugly Sweaters Keeps Clients Jolly

31Jul

Most organisations have recognised that becoming more customer-centric is essential to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. What they often fail to realise is that creating a sustainable and impressive customer experience program has to start with your employees. If your team members are not being looked after, it will be next to impossible to ask them to buy-in to genuine customer service delivery, much less an end to end customer experience program.

Financial incentives only go so far, especially when it comes to genuine customer service, and often lead to superficial service quality, ready to sour at the first sign of customer dissatisfaction, which we all know is a key touch point in itself. There are a multitude of resources online with details on how to review and improve your employee experience to drive satisfaction and engagement, and what works for us may not work for you. What we will elaborate on are some of the results, from our own experience as a debt recovery agency, honoured to be entrusted to look after our client’s own customers:

  • It has created a fun, friendly workplace – so when an external party speaks to any team member, across any department, it is obvious they are happy to be there;
  • Client facing team members have the energy, resources and motivation to strive to exceed client expectations;
  • Our contact centre staff members are friendly, more attuned to wanting to help the customer, to actively listen, and to defuse any customers than phone in discontent. These in turn help to protect our clients brand, can rehabilitate good customers in short term financial hardship and;
  • Leads to optimal collections performance, as the boundaries of non-payment are more effectively negotiated and resolved.

So, before you set out on weaving customer-centricity into your strategy, the place to start is with your employees. Look after them.

 

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The Long, Lost Art of Listening

04Jul

Conscious listening is becoming a forgotten art. If we can’t train ourselves to actively listen to our customers, colleagues, suppliers, friends, family members or anyone else, how can we hope to understand them?
Why Don’t We Listen?

The fact is, it’s getting harder to listen. As a society, we are bombarded with sensory data from all manner of channels and wigits, which has reduced our ability to notice and appreciate things in life that are quiet or subtle. It has driven us to need constant stimulation, made us impatient and fostered a ‘cult of self’ mentality, encouraging an inflated sense of our own self-importance. Compounding this, we are no longer reliant on listening as a significant mode of recording information, and most schools don’t teach it. In summary, our cultural landscape places very little value on listening as a skill, and we are not being taught otherwise.

Benefits of Being a Conscious Listener (with a focus on those relevant to the workplace):
  • you hear what’s being said, as well as the subtle things that add meaning but are not spoken
  • people feel that they have been heard, which increases their satisfaction with the exchange
  • it promotes a culture of respect, which has obvious benefits to all stakeholders
  • you are more likely to reach the best outcomes, rather than relying on the usual persuasion by argument
  • you create a space for other people to use, to express their own ideas or views, which they may not have voiced otherwise, often adding valuable insight from different personality types
  • provides more opportunity and better reception of it, when you tactfully voice diverging opinions or views
  • most importantly, you achieve a deeper level of understanding
 
How to be a Conscious Listener

Most literature available recommends a 2-phase approach, which is to a. practice listening exercises, and b. adopt a best practice approach to the listening process.

 

1. Listening exercises help to re-calibrate your body’s ability to appreciate the subtle sounds, they can include:

  • Mindfulness walks, where you clear your head as much as you can and simply focus on the sounds you hear
  • Sitting for 3 minutes of silence per day
  • Focusing on a particular sound, and making an effort to enjoy it thoroughly (eg. water filling a bath tub, turning on a gas stove)
  • Practice listening with different filters/perspectives (eg. as a colleague, as a competitor, as an examiner, as an intern)

 

2. Best practice listening process:

  • Pay attention – make eye contact, avoid distractions, and unless you are the timekeeper or the chairperson do not interrupt the speaker. Watch their body language, and be mindful of your own.
  • Show that you are listening – make small noises of acknowledgement like ‘ah’, ‘ok’, ‘yes’ or nod your head.
  • Summarise what you have heard to ensure you have understood. 
  • Ask Questions.
  • Respond, where appropriate – offer your own view or alternate information. Always assert your opinions respectfully.

 

In summary, if you are setting personal development goals for FY2018, spare a thought for including one on actively working on becoming a conscious and engaged listener. Everyone will thank you for it!

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NSW Young Credit Professional of the Year Our Own Jack Elias

23Jun

Our Head of Compliance, Mr Jack Elias, has been awarded the honour of NSW Young Credit Professional of the Year 2017. The program is the largest and most prestigious Youth Credit Award program in Australia. It recognises the achievements of the new generation of industry leaders, and provides opportunity for support and shared learning from other recognised young talent, as well as experienced Credit Practitioners who are interested in assisting young Credit Professionals to achieve their potential.

We are very proud of Jack’s achievements, both in and outside of the workplace. Inside the office Jack has been instrumental in reviving our business management system so that our overall approach is one of proactivity, operationalised innovation, and always in the true spirit of our family values.

Outside of the workplace Jack has also shown himself to be of exceptional standard. Having trekked in Nepal shortly before the devastating earthquakes in 2015, he and his partner made the decision to act. Together they created the ‘2 Pairs Project’, and employ local Nepalese jewellers to design and make handmade jewellery. 100% of profits from every item sold is donated to rebuild schools and education programs in Nepal.

“2 Pairs Project exists to provide children and communities with opportunities to create a brighter future and stop the cycle of poverty…Our jewellery extends beyond sentimental value and impacts the lives of Nepalese children by equipping them with the most powerful tool on earth: education.”

https://2pairsproject.com.au/

Well done Jack.

 

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On a Mission

31Mar

During a lengthy and highly productive Strategic Planning process last year, we engaged every member of staff to help distil out the essence of who we are and what we offer to clients and other stakeholders. We used this intel to redefine our company’s guardrails in the form of our Vision, Mission and Core Values.

Mission:

“To provide superior financial outcomes to clients, uniting the operational standards of the Big Guys with the agility of the Small Guys”

Vision:

“To be the most respected agency in our industry, well known in our target markets for the strength of our service, performance, and compliance”

Our Family Values:

1. Build Relationships.
2. Live a Life of Integrity.
3. Blend Professionalism with Authenticity.
4. Embrace & Drive Change.
5. Deliver Client Service Excellence.
6. Every Role is Powerful –> Own Yours!
7. Help Others.

These 3 components have helped build our strategic foundation and are used extensively throughout our organisation to guide decision making across all functions and departments. This means that when Clients and their Customers engage with us, they have increased clarity around exactly who we are and what we represent as an organisation. 

 

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Encouraging Reckless Spending or Ambitious Entrepreneurs?

22Feb

Government to Reduce Bankruptcy Period to One Year

In Australia, the bankruptcy period is currently three years. During this period a bankrupt must comply with numerous requests from the trustee including, but not limited to, providing statements of affairs, seeking the trustee’s consent to travel overseas, and potentially even garnishing wages.

As part of its National Innovation Statement, in the last half of 2015 the Government announced its intention to reduce the bankruptcy period from three years to one. The move has been promoted as a positive step to protect creditors and encourage entrepreneurship across Australia.

The Productivity Commission proposed the idea in its report on Business Set-up, Transfer and Closure, which was sent to the Government in September 2015 and released to the public in December. In its report, the Commission made the following recommendations regarding personal insolvency:

Recommendation 1 – Automatic Discharge after 1 Year

 That the Bankruptcy Act 1966 should be amended so that, where no offence has occurred, a bankrupt is automatically discharged after one year. Specifically, this should apply to restrictions relating to overseas travel, holding an office under the Corporations Act 2001, employment within certain professions and access to personal finance.

 The trustee, and the courts, should retain the power to extend the time until the bankrupt is discharged for a period of up to eight years if there are concerns regarding the bankrupt’s conduct. Any extensions should be recorded on the National Personal Insolvency Index.

Recommendation 2 – Continuation of Income Contribution Regime

 The obligation of bankrupts to make excess income contributions to their trustee should remain for three years. The period of excess income contributions can be extended at the discretion of the trustee to up to eight years. If the period of bankruptcy is extended beyond three years, then excess income contributions should be required until discharge.

 

Given that these recommendations are still quite new, there will undoubtedly be a number of discussions about whether a decreased bankruptcy period will reduce the ramifications of bankruptcy for debtors and make their decision to go into bankruptcy easier thanks to faster rehabilitation. Concerned parties are also deliberating on whether a shorter bankruptcy period will encourage irresponsible borrowing and spending.

Nevertheless, if these recommendations become law, it appears that they would have minimal impact upon the administration of a bankruptcy file (and creditors).

Creditors — The position of creditors to claim in an estate will remain unchanged. They will be entitled to submit a proof of debt in the estate and, subject to acceptance of their claim, participate in any dividends that the trustee may pay from the estate.

Assets — All divisible assets as at the date of bankruptcy will still be available for realisation by the trustee, with the only impact being on ‘after-acquired’ property (i.e., property that devolves on a bankrupt while they are undischarged such as lottery winnings or inheritances).

Income Contributions — Despite the reduced bankruptcy period, income contributions will still have to be paid (if applicable) for three years (or longer) as is currently the case.

Trustee powers — A trustee’s statutory powers to recover assets and voidable transactions will continue to be available.

Whether the proposed reduced bankruptcy term will meet is stated objective of encouraging more Australians to take more risks, be more innovative, and therefore more ambitious remains to be seen. However from the creditors’ perspective, it appears that they will not be unfairly disadvantaged by the proposals.

The Government has indicated that a proposal paper that includes the above recommendations will be released in the first half of this year, with a view to the introduction and passage of legislation in mid-2017. We will continue to report on developments as they occur, watch this space.

 

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CFMG Launch

09Oct

CFMG Consolidates Specialist Services to Provide End-to-End Debt Recovery Management

New umbrella organisation repositions 40-year debt management industry veteran businesses to provide innovative, holistic debt collection services

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Sydney—9th October 2015— ECOLL, Insolvency Management Services (iMS) and Linton Pitt Lawyers today announced the formation of a new parent company called Central Finance Management Group (CFMG). The new umbrella organisation brings the veteran debt management businesses together under one brand to provide holistic, seamless debt recovery services that span the entire accounts receivable cycle.

By integrating three specialist companies under the CFMG umbrella, the company has positioned itself to become a partner of choice for debt management in Australia’s banking, finance, insurance, utilities, commercial, and government sectors.

“We are very pleased about today’s announcement, which is the culmination of more than two years of planning and preparation,” said Kent Roberts, CFMG’s CEO. “While various parts of the companies are well established and have been operating for 40 years, we believe that by bringing these complementary businesses together, we’re paving the way for innovative new approaches to managing the debt collection process.”

Kent was previously the head of ECOLL. He now leads a fresh management team at CFMG that’s committed to working collaboratively with clients to find the right solution for their individual needs.

ECOLL began its operations in 1975 as the first computerised debt collection agency in Australia and is today a leader in debt recovery. It subsequently developed two complementary businesses to help maximise cash flow and successfully resolve debt. iMS was formed in 1995 for specialty collections, followed by Linton Pitt Lawyers in 2003, which provides related legal services.

In addition to debt recovery, CFMG will also provide a variety of other related services, including insolvency, hardship and deceased management, legal services and customised collections solutions. In so doing, CFMG will be uniquely placed to administer the debt management process end-to-end in a fully compliant environment.

Beyond its expanded service offering, CFMG also anticipates significant organic growth over the next 12-18 months as a result of its ability to promote its services to a broader range of industry sectors. Kent expects additional growth through acquisition as well.

“This is an exciting time for CFMG,” Kent noted. “We believe we have the potential to optimise the debt management process at a time when technological advances and heightened regulatory controls are reshaping the industry. We look forward to partnering with a growing range of clients, helping them to successfully navigate these challenges.”

CMFG’s existing roster of high-profile clients include a range of financial institutions with a considerable domestic and international presence.

 

 

 

 

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5 Easy Tips to Improve In-House Collection Rates FAST

01Oct

Regardless of which industry you are in, there are steps you can take to reduce the incidence of non-payment, well before the account becomes overdue. 5 simple tips include:

1. Offer immediate payment options where possible (such as EFPOS, credit or debit card payments), to gain payment upfront.

For businesses without traditional store fronts there are a range of smartphone payment apps on the market that pair with a bluetooth/mobile card reader (such as ANZ FastPay), enabling you to collect payments on the go. Checking that the card is in name of the person whom you are supplying the goods/services to will reduce your risk of a payment dispute later on.

2. Know who your customer is.

Make sure you have the customer’s full name, address and/or company details including ABN. If it is a company, check that the details given to you match those on ABN Lookup and if they don’t match ask why. You may be dealing with a Trust whom has no liability for any incurred debts.

3. Make sure all the details on your quotes, invoices and follow up letters are 100% accurate.

Incorrect data can cause you headache and cost you money, for example sending out an invoice of $450.00 for a $4,500.00 account.

4. For new or slow paying clients, call 3-4 days before the account is due to ensure that everything is going well.

This gives you the opportunity to resolve any issues before the account becomes overdue, as well as being a good customer service initiative.

5. If you do business with large companies and/or the government make sure you send a copy of your invoice:  a) with delivery, b) to whomever authorised payment, and c) accounts payable

 

If you found these tips helpful, and you would like further advice on creating credit terms and/or other risk management initiatives, please contact us at compliance@cfmg.com.au or on +61 2 9539 8818

 

 

Disclaimer: The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Central Finance Management Group an affiliated companies aim to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.

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