Social Conscience and Business: CFS2

For me, the perfect Sunday morning is making coffee, waking slowly and watching the various stories presented on Charles Osgood’s, CBS Sunday Morning. I know, I sound like a total geezer, but the stories are so different and examine various topics in the news today or something that happened 70 years ago…I digress. I like CBS Sunday Morning.

This past Sunday, I was playing catchup on the show from the week before and came across this short piece about a unique company called CFS2. I was immediately pulled in. CFS2 is a debt collection company doing something uniquely different from everyone else. THEY’RE BEING NICE TO PEOPLE. Imagine that…treating people well in the messy world of debt collection. They’re being so nice that The American Consumer Council  awarded CFS2 the “Friend of the Consumer” award. They’ve also received the Compass Award for Business Ethics, the Beacon Award for Community Involvement and the “Stevie” Award for Customer Service. I LOVE THIS. CFS2 is in the business of calling people to collect money… a call that most people never pick up when recognizing the number on the caller ID. Rather than badgering, CFS2 gives hope, structure, knowledge and assistance on getting out from financial strain. How refreshing.

This business has a social conscience and is reaping the rewards of treating people with dignity, empathy and respect. What is the cost of treating people well? What are the rewards for treating people well?

CEO Bill Bartmann has created a competitive advantage and is outdoing the competition at a 2:1 rate by being a customer service company FIRST and a debt collector SECOND. Rather than saying, “Hey, give us the money you owe,” their approach is “We recognize you’re in a difficult position of paying your bills…how can we help you manage your debt?”

What Bartmann has done is create a great culture centered around a higher social purpose. From my brief study of CFS2, here’s what makes them special and inline with some of the best companies in the world today:

1. Great Culture - The culture is centered around a higher social purpose: helping people in debt.

2. Hiring – CFS2 hasn’t hired debt collectors. They have hired service-oriented people, passionate about helping others and who contribute to the culture.

3. Servant Leadership – CFS2 walks the walk not just helping people in debt, but also the people that work at CFS2. CFS (the predecessor to CFS2) offered free on-site daycare that grew to 500 children, as well as free full health care and a 250% company match in its 401(k) program. BusinessWeek magazine called CFS “One of the top 10 family-oriented businesses in America” and Working Mother Magazine named it “One of the top 100 best companies for working mothers.” (I’m not aware of what the current benefits are at CFS2, but I’d speculate they’re pretty good).

4. Benefits of WOM – CFS2 is now benefiting from Word of Mouth marketing – the most credible kind and impactful form of marketing there is. They have converted their customers into loyalists who have become marketing mouthpieces. The attention given to CFS from CBS News will only propel their business into new heights of profitability – all by treating their customers better than they expected to be treated.

As in life, satisfaction comes when helping others as opposed to looking only at how we can please ourselves. Thank you CFS2 for being a light in a very dark place.

Watch this video below to get a deeper insight to Bill Bartmann and CFS2.


About James

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.


General Marketing Service Marketing



  • Cheyserr

    All I can say is a WOW! No doubt that a good customer service can make advocates out of customers but having such a noble culture is incredible.