To look at the title of this article, ‘Texas Blake Idea’, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re plugging the What3Words app...
...but we’re not.
Our three words though, could be just as critical to someone as the What3Words app is proving to be to so many, when it comes to pointing people in the right direction of help.
For years now, our highly trained Enforcement Agents have been equipped with a personal set of ‘key cards’, carried on them at all times via a handy set of key rings.
These key cards, featuring the acronyms ‘TEXAS’, ‘BLAKE’ and ‘IDEA’ were thought up as a tool to help Agents identify vulnerability and vulnerable debtors whilst out in the field.
So, what do they stand for and how do we use them in context?
We use ‘TEXAS’ when a debtor gives us sensitive information about themselves...
T – Thank them. We thank the debtor for sharing the information and tell them that this will be taken into account.
E – Explain. We explain that this information will be passed on to the creditor, who will then decide upon how to proceed in an appropriate way.
X – eXplicit consent. It is vitally important that we gain full consent from the debtor if we are to record any information that has been relayed.
A – Ask. We have to ask questions like, “how does this make it difficult to manage your finances?”
S – Signpost. We direct the person to the correct help.
Sometimes things get the better of people, and with mental health at the forefront of the conversation these days, we also have a key word to use when things get particularly desperate.
If a debtor is thinking of taking their own life, and tells our Agents this, we use ‘BLAKE’.
B - Breathe. This is so important, for the vulnerable person and for our Agents. We take a moment to acknowledge the situation.
L – Listen. We listen carefully and try to identify any imminent risk of harm.
A – Ask. Our Agents are trained to ask sensitive, open questions, aimed to keep the conversation going and reassure the person that someone is listening.
K – Keep Safe from Harm. Whilst our Agents have a duty to protect themselves, at this point they would contact the Emergency Services for assistance.
E – End with Summary. Our Agents know to recap the situation with the vulnerable person, and to look at making an exit strategy or plan.
It is far more likely (fortunately) that an Agent may need to have a conversation about a debtor’s vulnerability, and in these circumstances, we use the word ‘IDEA’.
I – Impact. We aim to find out the impact upon a person’s personal and financial situation.
D – Duration. It is important for us to know when the problem first became a problem.
E – Experiences. Our Agents gain a broader picture of a particular situation by finding out if a person has been in similar circumstances before.
A – Assistance. To gain as full a picture as possible, our Agents try to sensitively find out anything else they need to know about the debtor, such as if they are receiving any treatment or additional help.
At #TeamCES, we’re not naive enough to think that these three words can fix every single problem that we face on the doorstep, and there may be many weeks or months when our Agents find that they don’t need to refer to the key cards explicitly at all.
...when they do, as has happened recently, the key cards can be vital prompts in not just identifying vulnerability, but going that step further and signposting the person to the correct help.
Everybody struggles from time to time. It’s a fact of life.
We use key cards to remind ourselves of the correct way to treat those who may be struggling.
It’s all about operating ethically, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.