Updated: May 20
Collectors have a major hurdle to overcome right away on collection calls.
Talking about debt is uncomfortable and makes consumers feel cornered, angry, defensive, and afraid.
With the global pandemic, even more consumers are entering collection calls feeling uncertain, angry, and afraid.
To become a master collector, you need to know how to disarm those negative emotions and motivate consumers to pay.
That’s why emotional intelligence – being able to understand what others are feeling and defuse conflict – is essential for collectors, and it’s easier to develop than you might think.
To help you along, here are what I believe are five traits of emotionally intelligent people:
1) They deeply listen – To be an effective collector – or any sort of communicator really – you need to first and foremost be a good listener.
The more you listen and understand the feelings of consumers, the easier it is to relate to them and create a path to an agreement.
You need to listen without judgement; listen without the “but,” “however,” and “unfortunately.”
What I mean by that is, those words almost always negate whatever comes before them. Consumers know this, and when they hear “however,” “but,” or “unfortunately,” they begin tense up and enter panic mode because they’re afraid their needs aren’t going to be. It’s harder to get through to someone once they’re in panic mode.
Also important: Remember to give consumers a chance to be heard. When a consumer is talking, listen without interruption. Stay out of advice mode long enough to give him an opportunity to share his thoughts. There are several benefits to this deep listening, including helping you gather information to get the consumer on the best arrangement and helping you avoid misunderstandings.
2) They show empathy and seek ways to lift others up – Empathy is all about understanding consumers’ feelings; the ability to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and understand what they’re feeling and why.
Demonstrating empathy is important for collectors because it creates connection with the consumer – people want to feel heard and understood – and that connection drives trust and the consumer’s cooperation.
In fact, according to former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, people are 6 times more likely to make a deal with someone they like.
Pro Tip: Validation – making people feel heard – is how you can build empathy. When a consumer raises a question or concern or even shares a bit of good news, you can let him know you hear him using a validating phrase such as, “I understand you are feeling (insert emotion here)” or “Thank you for sharing that with me” or “That sounds really challenging.”
Bottom line: Emotionally intelligent collectors speak in ways that lift consumers up and motivate them to pay off their debts instead of tearing them down. When you can help consumers see paying as an opportunity instead of a consequence, you are going to be more successful.
3) They are effective problem-solvers and are good at determining what other people really want – Sometimes consumers might not always ask directly for what they want or ask for things using their language not yours. (Example: a consumer asks for a “letter of documentation” that they no longer owe any money when a paid-in-full receipt showing a zero balance would suffice.)
It’s valuable when your collectors are able to understand what consumers really want and the motivations behind their requests.
When a consumer asks for something, emotionally intelligent collectors will ask themselves questions like, Why would the consumer be asking for this? What will the benefit be for him?
4) They are optimistic – Emotionally intelligent people see solutions to every problem. When someone comes to them with a question or problem, they’re not going to list off all of the reasons why they can’t help the person out; they’re going to think about what they can do.
That’s because they understand that even if the solution is not the exact one the person is looking for, there is always something they can do and demonstrating their willingness to find an alternative solution can help create a positive connection with that person.
Also, the environment of a collection call can get tense. Sometimes collectors will enter into power struggles with consumers and start speaking in ways that make matters worse.
Emotionally intelligent collectors refrain from becoming triggered themselves and focus on moving the call forward toward a solution.
5) They admit mistakes and take time to learn from them – Emotionally intelligent collectors understand that communication breakdowns are going to happen. Everyone communicates things a little bit differently, and everyone understands things a little bit differently. When a mistake has been made, they are quick to admit it and commit to doing better, and that builds a lot of trust.
Emotionally intelligent collectors are aware of their weaknesses (and also their strengths).
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a great amount of fear and uncertainty, which means more consumers are entering collection calls already triggered.
The need for emotionally intelligent collectors has never been greater.
To learn how the Collection Advantage online training program can boost your team’s emotional IQ and increase your revenue, book a call with me here.