That’s a question I’ve seen asked, and answered, a fair few times over the last few months. It’s clear that methods of recovering debt have changed considerably. The focus and rights that were once the creditors, are now the debtors, except we no longer use the term debtor, but use customer or consumer instead because what we were unaware of previously is that actually being in debt may not have been a conscious decision or deliberate action. Some people are affected by circumstances beyond their control so this by extension means they cannot be referred to as debtors.
That said, the term still gets plenty of wear in the legal and court system, but by that stage any customers in financial difficulties, dealing with vulnerability or mental health issues, will have been sensitively identified and properly handled.
So have we confused fairly with nicely? Are they in fact not the same thing? If you are being nice to someone are you not listening and looking for solutions to help? Being fair in collections means being nice AND being assertive, and it’s the assertive bit we have to monitor, not just the nice.
We all know that some customers will be difficult to handle and it’s being able to recognise why, that allows us to separate to ‘can’s from the ‘cant’s. A difficult customer can still be a ‘can’ but is angry or embarrassed or confused and so makes it hard to be helped, but a little perseverance and you will get there.
However, focusing on the customer’s behaviour and training your staff on how to deal with all the different psychologies of human behaviours is only part of the job. The methodology you teach your collectors, ask open questions etc will be wasted if you haven’t looked at your collectors, and addressed their individual instinctive behaviours, they don’t all come to the job the same. One collectors understanding of assertive will be different from another’s.
It’s crucial therefore that when you train your collector on TCF you take into account their own collection styles, are they too nice? Or are they too assertive? Do they shy away from looking for a commitment? Do they ask enough open questions? Do they react badly to anger? Are they easily offended and take things personally? Do they use sarcasm? Or avoid difficult areas? And do they skip procedural steps for quickness?
Recognising your collector’s ingrained and reactionary habits will help you train them in a more meaningful and collaborative way of doing things, widening their understanding will allow them to ‘level out’. You are asking them to remain in a position between passive and aggressive at all times, you need to help them recognise what this feels like and sounds like. Call recordings are extremely helpful. Ask your collectors to let you know when they have completed a good call, you will be surprised how many are keen to do so and it can be very revelatory when what they think was a fantastic calls still has something to improve upon. Use good old sitting by nelly, and use of whisper if you have it again, your people will appreciate your involvement if what you are doing is helping to improve them and highlight the good as well as the not so good. If you actively seek to improve them then what else are they going to do but act upon it? If used proactively you can steady your collector and be comfortable that TCF has enhanced your overall collections and ensured a comfortable compliant work environment!
Fairly and nicely does it me thinks! What do you think?
This article is provided for general information only. Please do not make any decision on the basis of this article alone without taking specific advice from us. stevensdrake will only be responsible for the advice we give which is specific to you.