Business Article

Real People v. Virtual World –  By Mark V. Matz
What’s the Future of Debt Collections? Collection Industry Consultant

Many years ago, there was a situation comedy show on television called “WKRP in Cincinnati” starring Loni Anderson which featured the interactions of the people working in a small, local radio station (back before the days when satellite radio and network syndication became the current industry standards).  One of the episodes was a fantasy look into the future of the business.  In this look ahead, only one real person remained working at the station.  All the other functions had become automated and the single “live body” left was the person who both sold the ads and collected the money!  

While that was just a dream sequence created by writers, in today’s debt collection industry, agencies and law firms have embraced technology and have the opportunity to use the best of what is offered to streamline operations.  But the important message that rings out from the old TV show, there are still some aspects of business that needs a real person to deal with; making the sale and collecting the money!  

In the highly competitive world of debt collections today, there are two things that will get you business, the cheapest rate or a real relationship based on a mutual need and understanding.  Sadly, with the onset of technology, the time needed to create and cultivate seems to diminishing, but remains an essential component.  So first, let’s look at the easiest to convey in the electronic world, the lowest rate.  Your website, which should be well designed and optimized by professionals like, is the way those working in virtual world will be able to find out about your services.  Being on the top of the list when a search is done for “Hometown Debt Collection Agency” or “My State Collection Attorney” will get you noticed.  Making sure you have a page where a prospect can place a claim or make an easy inquiry (one that you will answer within 24 hours, preferably much less) are essential elements.  Does that website have a virtual spokesperson making a visual pitch on your behalf?  If not, think about using a service like to add some movement and audio (i.e. dimension) to your site so you will stand out from the crowd.  Visit if you’re interested in looking at other ways to utilize modern technology to enter the virtual world.  If you look at your business today and chat with your colleagues about where they are seeing growth, don’t be surprised to hear that more and more of those seeking your services are doing so virtually these days.  

But what about the personal connection in business?  That’s a great question and one where we go back to our story about the old television sit-com.  While business will find you virtually, how are you going to keep it?  Once placed, establishing and maintaining a strong personal connection is key.  People today talk about the last of customer service when they are shopping or how impersonal business has become.  What steps are you taking to make sure your clients aren’t saying that about you?  Once placed, is the claim quickly acknowledged?  How do you handle that communication?  Emails are great, but a call once a month or so, perhaps more if a large volume is placed is better.  Do you know the people behind the claim?  Take some time and reach out to build a personal connection with those you are relying on for business.  If you were found because of good placement when an online search was done, where will you be if someone else gets a better position or updated website?   

Building a solid core of business means more than being found easily, having the latest bells and whistles on your site, it means using those advantages combined with your expertise, ability to do the job, communication skills and somewhat your likeability.  People like to spend time in business or for pleasure with those whom they get along.  In the “real world”, make sure you and your business are professional and approachable.   

Let me close with a quote that may let us think more about how to balance the virtual and real worlds of business:  “Firms need to ensure that their ability to provide effective customer service keeps pace with their growth. If you're marketing your firm to new customers, you better be able to provide them service when they do business with you.”

Arthur Levitt (the longest-serving Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission from 1993 to 2001)

Meet Mark V. Matz

Mark V. Matz - began working in the broadcast media for WGN Radio and Television in Chicago, IL (a part of the Tribune Company) back in the late 1970's as part of the team on the then number one rated radio program. He later worked in the station’s Sports Department working for Baseball Hall of Fame Broadcasters Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Lou Boudreau - before moving into the Finance Department at WGN, reaching the title of Credit Manager in 1986.

Moving beyond broadcasting, he went to work in the credit industry on the association side of the business before branching out to provide marketing services to a number of members of the industry ranging from attorneys, collection agencies and law list publishers. Mark served on staff as Marketing and Membership Director for the CLLA and remains active with the association; including serving as Co-Chair of the National Marketing Committee and on the Midwest Regional Executive Council. He also served on the Creditors’ Rights Executive Council, as Secretary of the Association of Law List Publishers and in various positions on other CLLA and Commercial Collection Agency Association committees. Mark has written numerous articles and spoken at a number of educational programs on marketing, finance, credit and collection issues during his thirty-plus year career.




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