What comes to mind when you hear the words “debt collector”? A thick envelope, emblazoned with the feared “final demand” stamp? A curt, vaguely ominous voicemail, coldly instructing you to return the call and discuss the urgent state of a balance you never knew existed? Or perhaps a scene akin to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange; a sea of rage-reddened faces perched atop ten thousand dollar suits, gnashing their teeth into high-tech headsets and demanding immediate payment? For the majority of my life, I would have responded to this question with extremely similar answers, and it’s no secret that the collections industry can be downright nasty. However, if you’ve spent even a few moments on the KLS website, you’ve probably noticed that our company’s mission is to change the face of collections. Though the majority of our blog posts deal with financial advice, today I’d like to pull back the curtain and reveal a bit about the surprisingly soft heart of KLS.
During a recent training seminar, a brief point made by one of the key speakers resonated with me on a deeply personal level. To paraphrase: Nobody grows up wanting to be a debt collector. This is a job you fall into accidentally. Truth be told, I dreaded my first day at KLS – I spent the entirety of the drive to work that morning regretting my decision to accept a position with a collection agency; silently cursing myself for giving in to the desperation of unemployment and submitting an application for such a loathsome job in the first place. I’m not this kind of person, I thought furiously. I want to help my consumers, not ruin their lives, my inner voice whimpered. For god’s sake, I’m a decent human being! I practically yelled aloud. I was no stranger to collections myself – very early on in life, I came to understand the meaning behind the frequent phone calls during dinner; learned to despise the unheard voice on the other line; became all too familiar with the shameful, hushed answer of, “I just sat down to a meal with my family, this really isn’t a good time.” As I grew older, these calls started to make their way to my own phone. Walking through the KLS front door felt almost like a betrayal…until I was introduced to the staff.
It took all of thirty minutes for me to realize how astronomically mistaken I had been in my initial judgments. KLS is not the money-grubbing, vulture-filled, looming high rise of my early imaginings – on the contrary, we are a family owned and operated company, employing some of the kindest and happiest people I know. Every person I work with has been in a tough spot financially, myself included. Many of us have been sent to collections ourselves. We understand that sometimes, things just happen – because every one of us has been in a similar situation. We also know that we, the dreaded debt collectors, are likely the last people on earth you’d like to speak with. Consumers are often caught off guard by our calls, and the conversation (understandably) doesn’t always start off on a positive note. Yet every day, I listen to my coworkers find ways to turn heated phone calls around, set up manageable payment plans for those down on their luck, and begin the process of repairing a consumer’s credit.
The collectors of KLS aren’t here to simply snatch your money and run – we want to assist in dissolving consumers’ debts as quickly and painlessly as possible, in addition to providing the tools and assistance that may be needed to help create long term financial literacy and stability (don’t believe us? Check out the rest of our blog posts!). Indeed, the title of “debt collector” only represents a small percentage of what we truly accomplish – we are accountants, negotiators, puzzle solvers, and sometimes even makeshift psychologists. While I wish I had the opportunity to travel back in time and allow my past self to get a glimpse of what collections can actually entail, she was right about a few things – I do want to help consumers, I am a compassionate and empathetic person, and I certainly try my hardest to be a decent human being. Little did I know that these are the attributes of the very best debt collectors, and unquestionably the attributes of the wonderful people that I am lucky enough to work with each and every day.
For KLS, changing the face of collections is about so much more than merely providing pleasant and courteous phone voices. We want every last one of our consumers to leave a call feeling heard, respected, and above all, helped. There is no need for us to use our imaginations to put ourselves in your shoes, because at the end of the day, we’re already wearing them. So if you happen to see a missed call from KLS Financial Services, don’t fret, don’t panic, and don’t hesitate to call back!