In my years of debt collection training, I’ve seen collectors make one mistake made over and over again.
It doesn’t matter how experienced the collector is. It doesn’t matter how polite the collector is. It doesn’t matter how long the call is. It doesn’t matter how much training the collector has received over the years.
In fact, I would argue that almost every collector—whether first-party, third-party, consumer, or commercial—has made this mistake at one point or another. And most collectors make this mistake every day.
Are you ready to hear what it is?
Saying what you can’t do instead of what you can do.
What you need to understand is that when you recite policy or say “no” to consumers, it can put them in a worse mood than they were at the beginning of the call.
I call this moving down the frequency scale of emotion.
The result? The consumer will react by either putting on the boxing gloves or hanging up the phone as soon as possible. Either way, they likely aren’t paying before the end of the call.
What To Do Instead
When a consumer asks for something that is against company policy, it’s easy to say "no" without really thinking about the consequences. I’m here to tell you that there’s another way.
Instead of triggering the consumer, we can simply reroute the call in a different direction.
It’s as simple as saying what you can do instead of what you can’t do.
To explain what I mean, let’s take a look at a quick and easy example.
Let’s say the consumer doesn’t want to pay your agency; instead, they want to pay your client.
First, you need to consider why the consumer may want to pay the client rather than your agency by labeling their emotions.
In this case, the consumer may be feeling hostile or defensive.
Knowing how the consumer may be feeling can help you determine where to take the call next and focus on solutions rather than on what you can’t do.
Now we need to respond to the consumer without saying “no” or “I can’t.” Here’s how we can do that:
”It’s great that you want to pay. The good news is, we have several options to help you get this taken care of.”
List all of the options, and use the psychological pause to give the consumer a moment to think.
Pro-Tip: Take some time to list 5-10 common pain points at your agency. Make sure you have possible scripts for consumers who bring up those pain points.
Practice the Do-Not-Say List This Week
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I have a Do-Not-Say List. This is a list of negative words that I train collectors and other customer service professionals never to say.
You can download a FREE copy of the Do-Not-Say List here!
If you want a leg-up in the art of communication this year, check out The Communication Code for Collectors for a quick and effective communication strategy you can use on the phone with consumers right away.