Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Collections: Just Another Game

I was all set to rant and rave about a couple of the games we managed to bring home from GenCon, when the head of the credit department at my office threw me an interesting curve ball.

"I'm not," he told me, "a gamer myself, but I like hiring tabletop gamers for Collections."

This was a sufficiently interesting statement that I pressed him for more information, and here's what he had to say:

Gamers understand the concept of turns.
When making collections calls, sometimes it's your turn to talk, sometimes it's the other guy's turn to talk. Non-gamers have a habit of interrupting or of spending too much time talking. Roleplayers especially understand the concept of whose turn it is to talk.

"In my experience," he said, "knowing that it's your turn to listen is an important skill that isn't easy to teach."

Gamers understand and follow the rules.
We want to win on our own merits. If a rule doesn't make sense or conflicts with another rule, we try to follow the spirit of the rules.

"Not every call will be covered by the rules," he explained, "so you need to be able to follow the intent of the rules. The rules don't make allowances for family illness or road construction in front of our building."

Gamers want to win.
Yes, gaming is a social affair. Yes, we all have our own reasons for playing games. But when you get right down to it, we want to win.

"In collections like we do," I learned, "the goal isn't to make the customer pay off completely - the goal is to get the customer to the point where we can sell to him again. That's not to say we never want our customer to pay off - because we do - but as a wholesaler, we are vested in our customer's success."

Gamers are problem-solvers who can adapt to changing situations.
Similar to being able to follow the rules, gamers are able to change strategies if the existing strategy isn't working.

"Obviously, all customers have different circumstances. Some customers can make small payments weekly, others can pay monthly or quarterly. The trick is to figure out which type of customer you are talking to, and create a plan that works for them."

Now, I'm not going to be joining the Collections team any time soon. This is partly because I have no great desire to move to Portland and partly because I like the job I have now. If I ever do join a collections team, however, I'll remember this:

"Collections is just another game. The best collectors are already aware of this and play to win."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a very interesting post. Since I am one, I often think about how gamers can make great project managers. Planning, prioritization, resource management, timing, negotiation, diplomacy... these (any many more skills) are all necessary to effectively manage a project. And I can think of tons of games that teach these concepts.