Here's How to Bring Humanity Into Collections
Updated: Apr 30
If you often feel guilty while collecting money, you’re not alone. Many collectors feel the same way.
(To read more about top collector fears, check out this blog post.)
The truth is, we can combine humanity and collections. You can feel good about your job and remain empathetic towards consumers.
Last summer, I wrote about the importance of empathy in all types of business and how it can increase your revenue by making consumers feel heard and understood on each phone call. Read more about that here.
Now that you know why we need empathy, let’s dive into how you can be a good person while collecting debt.
Ultimately, this lies in how you view your job and how you treat consumers to make sure you’re creating a positive impact.
Let’s take a look at three mindset shifts that will help you view your job in a positive light.
#1: You're Helping Consumers With Financial Literacy
When we’re speaking to consumers, especially consumers who have never had a debt in collections before, chances are they don’t know much about credit reporting, payment arrangements, or other areas that we specialize in.
The good news is, we are in the perfect position to help consumers understand these concepts and make decisions to pay off their debt in a way that will work for them.
For example, at my agency, we like to explain the basics of credit reporting and credit disputing to consumers. We don’t do this in a patronizing way; we make sure consumers are empowered with the tools they need to deal with any credit reporting issues that may arise.
I need to be very clear here: This does not mean that you should recite policy to consumers. Usually, this will result in the call ending too soon. Nobody likes to be lectured. Instead, you can simply explain certain concepts if the consumer asks or if explaining a concept will help resolve the issue. For example, you could say, “What I can do for you is…” and then explain the policy or guideline you’re wanting to use. That way, the consumer feels like he’s in good hands and that you’re there to help.
#2: You’re Providing Customer Service
I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: Collections is a customer service job.
Viewing your job in collections as a customer service job will help you bring humanity into the collections process.
Before I get into why, let me answer a common question I hear, which is, What is customer service?
According to this article from Indeed.com, customer service includes…
Positive customer reviews
A better work environment
Each of these attributes can be applied directly to a collections job to bring more humanity to the process. Let’s unpack this.
First, customer satisfaction is key to ensuring the consumer feels heard and understood. One way to achieve this is by being the consumer’s ally rather than his enemy. You can learn more about that here.
Next, positive customer reviews are extremely important in collections. We want our consumers to say we exceeded their expectations. Whether it’s a written Google review or a word-of-mouth exchange, the more our consumers offer raving reviews, the more we’re destigmatizing the industry and showing that we care about bringing humanity into the process.
Finally, a better work environment will help to promote humanity in collections because morale on the collections floor will be higher. I wholeheartedly believe that the collector’s voice is the most valuable tool on the collections floor, and when we invest in that voice, we help to improve the work environment. When morale is higher, collectors in turn, will be friendlier on calls with consumers. And that’s exactly what we need to bring humanity into the process.
Remember: Being friendly and providing customer service does not mean you have to be passive. In fact, you can be direct with consumers while still being empathetic, compassionate, and friendly. To learn more about how to be empathetic on calls, click here.
#3: You're Giving the Consumer Solutions
One of the most rewarding parts about being a collector is getting to provide the consumer with adequate solutions to the issues they’re facing.
It’s likely that consumers are feeling frustrated, discouraged, or upset about their debt going into collections. As the collector, you can help them feel content, satisfied, and happy that they can find a way to take care of the debt that fits into their budget.
How can you always find the best solution for your agency and the consumer? The answer lies in telling the consumer what you can do instead of what you can’t do.
We often don’t naturally focus on the solution. If the consumer asks for something that we can’t provide, we automatically want to say, “I’m sorry. We can’t do that.” When you say this, you’re not helping the consumer to feel heard and understood.
When we use our critical thinking skills and say what we can do instead of apologizing and saying what we can’t do, we’re guiding the consumer to a solution that will work for him and will fit into agency policies.
When we provide solutions for each consumer, we’re ultimately bringing humanity back into the process because we’re helping the consumers through difficult financial situations. The consumers need solutions that will work, and we can provide those solutions if we keep in mind our expertise and ability to do so.
You Have What It Takes
We’re entering a paradigm shift in all industries that is asking for increased humanity in business relations. Collections is no exception. Luckily, you have the tools you need to make this happen.
You’re in a unique position to help others, and I hope you’ll see the true value in your job position.
Communication is currency, so make sure to say the right thing at the right time to help every consumer stay in the connection zone where they feel a sense of trust, rapport, and confidence in you. Before you know it, you’ll be fostering humanity on each call.
Want to learn more about using effective communication to bring humanity into the collections process through The Collection Advantage online training program? Book a free strategy call with me today.