Grant is the customer services manager of a payday loan company. His job is to contact customers who have defaulted on payment, or not made any payments at all. He runs the call center. When I arrive I am shown over to Grant’s desk. He waves me to some chairs and I sit down. However, not before I notice 3 sides of A4 paper covered in numbers which I assume are there for Grant to call on.
As I sit and wait for Gant to finish up whatever it is he is doing, I take a look around the office. There are eight other people who seem to be doing the same thing as Grant. I listen in on one of the phone conversations. The payday loan employee obviously calls someone who owes the company money. The telephonist is patient and calm.
“Hello, who am I speaking to? Ah, can I speak to Mr. C? Is that your Father? Oh, is he in the kitchen? Please, could you ask him to come to the phone? Where did he go? But you said he was in the kitchen two seconds ago. Ok, so he went out. Thank-you, can you write down this phone number for me … and ask him to call back when he gets home.”
It is clear that it will be difficult to get this particular customer to pay back his loan.
A Payday loan employee: It’s all in the approach
This particular payday loan company employs about 15 people. It is a small company and approves approximately 3000 loans a month. These loans are never more than 500 pounds, and of course, at the end of the month, at payday, this is when the telephone wires glow hot as the employees start calling in collections. One would think that the anxiety and stress levels would soar, but here the payday loan employee is calm and friendly. There is no frustration, anger or slamming of phones. Grant is proud to explain that they do not use the services of debt collectors, and he claims that the company has only ever once had to take a defaulting client to court.
Grant tells me that it is important to know what you are dealing with. This payday company serves a specific demographic. Their average client is 32 years of age, and 80 percent of the clientele fits between 23 and 40 years of age. The customer they most like to do business with is someone who earns approximately 21 000 pounds a year. Grant explains that the company tries not to let people over-extend themselves, thus creating a greater opportunity to end up defaulting and in debt.
The Company’s chief executive explained that people under the age of 23 should not be taking out payday loans. They should rather try the Bank of Mum and Dad. He went on to explain that of all the company’s customers 65 percent fell in the category of those who borrow and pay back timeously. Then there is 10 percent who end up in real difficulty and will probably go bankrupt. Lastly there is the 25 percent of borrowers who can’t pay the loan back in one go and need a little help with.
Grant, the perfect payday employee
Grant tells us that he works standard hours, so he has ample time to spend with his family in the evenings and at the weekends. He uses his spare time at the gym and likes to run. His salary is in the range of 25,000 pounds a year.
The best thing about work for him is the people he works with. The worst thing is dealing with the odd aggressive customer who is struggling with debt but is not interested in co-operating to find solutions.