Whether it’s a consumer’s first or tenth collection call, there’s usually a lot of emotion at play. That’s because we’re talking about their finances and nobody likes being in debt. However, at the end of the day, we believe consumers truly do want to pay their debts. Sometimes all it takes is for the agent on the other end of the call to foster a positive consumer experience to empower them to pay. Here are a few ways collectors can create a positive consumer experience.
4 Tips for Positive Consumer Communication
1. Set the tone from the beginning.
Behind every phone call is a real person. And each person is under a different set of circumstances. Debt is a touchy subject and requires a certain level of compassion from agents in order to both convert on the calls and leave the consumer happier when they get off the call than they were before. As soon as a consumer picks up the phone, an agent has the ability to steer them onto one of two paths. Either they begin with a positive tone, clearly depicting they’re there to help. Or they begin with a negative attitude and jump into telling them how much they owe right away with no other options than to pay it all. If you go with the latter, it’s likely that they’ll hang up. A little bit of compassion, empathy, and a positive attitude goes a long way.
2. Make them feel heard and validated.
Think about the last time someone had a conversation with you about a sensitive subject. Were you actively listening and acknowledging what they had to say? It’s in our nature as humans to need some sort of acknowledgment or conscious validation that the other person heard the words we said. Collection calls are no different. Before a consumer can move past the initial ‘emotional’ stage of the call, they need to feel heard. Use phrases like, “I understand how that could make you feel that way.” Or “Thank you for sharing that with me.” Acknowledgment allows consumers to feel that you’re there to help and that you actually care about them as a person, rather than just another business transaction.
3. Stay away from ‘trigger’ words.
The words you use on a phone call have the ability to change the direction of your conversation. In this industry, there are certain words that can trigger a negative emotional response. According to Mary Shores, trigger words are words that tend to bring forth an argument. Some words to stay away from when talking with consumers are:
As an agent, it can be tough to navigate through the conversation without using these words. This is where agents need to get innovative and create validation statements that replace these trigger words, such as “I understand where you’re coming from.”
4. Use a personalized approach.
Options are a collector’s biggest asset. Consumers don’t like to feel backed into a corner. As soon as they feel like there is only one option available to them (that they likely aren’t able to do at this moment), they’re going to get irritated or panic. Instead of pushing for that one course of action, give them feasible alternatives that can work for their situation. More options for collecting on their debts put the ball in the consumer’s court. The more in control of the situation the feel, the more likely they are to want to pay their debts.
One of the most effective ways to create a positive consumer experience is to let them handle their debts when they’re ready. People don’t like to be interrupted or blindsided, especially when it has to do with something as significant as debt. With DirectDrop Voicemail, interruption isn’t a problem. Instead of receiving an unexpected phone call, they’ll receive a voicemail without their phone ever ringing. This way, they can call back when they’re ready.