This may well be a musically themed blog as I have what is known as an earworm at the moment. You know what I mean! And it happens to be Spandau Ballet.
Sitting down writing this blog got me thinking about communication in general and how vastly different it is in 2015 to say just 10 or 15 years ago. It is a fact that the technological advances in the last 10 years have been at such a gallop it’s been said that innovation in general has now stalled. Apparently the Apple, Google and Amazon and the like, have simply run out of ideas, or steam, you could even say they are ‘muscle bound’.
Well, maybe it’s my age but maybe that’s not such a bad thing, at least we can catch our breath and well, just catch up. To cut a long story short, the market for communication is well and truly saturated and the means we now have to contact and be contacted, are numerous and in some cases truly amazing. This means that we are all ‘open’ to be seen and communicated with 24/7 with a variety of communiqués flying in ‘through the barricades’ from all directions!
But constantly being called, emailed, texted, face booked, tweeted, written to, WhatsApp’d, Snap Chatted and who knows what else can be exhausting, so when this becomes more than social, when it becomes a matter of personal business and the contactors are Debt Collectors and Legal Collectors you can understand people saying “I don’t need this pressure on” and pulling down the shutters.
So how do you, as a collection department make sure your communications hit the target and are well received? Send a letter threatening to take the first born in lieu of unpaid debts? Send a doorstep collector round with the girth of a small car?
No of course not! Let’s face it! you have no idea what has caused this financial issue, it may just be temporary, or down to circumstances well beyond the control of the customer or it may not even be resolvable, but until you make contact, you’ll never know and will remain in ‘the freeze’ if you don’t make the right approach.
We all know the old saying treat others as you would like to be treated yourself and this is never more appropriate when dealing with individuals with financial difficulties and I say this in spite of the recent survey by Experian which revealed 16% of people borrow money NEVER intending to repay it, these are the people who repeatedly go ‘round and round’ the collections industry playing it for all they’re worth. But they are not the majority and therefore unlikely to be the ones who you get to talk to. Its ‘true’ to say they will be largely absent from any communication you instigate.
The customers who will engage will be those who want to pay but can’t, they will be ‘highly strung’ and defensive but also computer savvy. It is our job to make reaching a solution easier and less stressful; we need to offer them a ‘lifeline’!
Interactive IVR’s automated payment lines, websites that allow for income and expenditures schedules to be completed and offers made and accepted, web chat, two way SMS and more, all provide a level of anonymity that offers a bit of comfort to the nervous or embarrassed individual who just wants to sort it out quickly and manageably.
Key though is a team of well trained agents who can talk the talk and address affordability and practice forbearance in a way that leaves the customer relieved and happy with the outcome and the client confident the job was done right. A good collector knows it’s ‘only when you leave’ a conversation with a crystal clear knowledge of what’s going on do you feel it’s a job well done.
There’s a lot to be said for knowing your audience and both identifying and using, preferred contact channels to improve your success rate. To a collection department, that is absolute ‘gold’ (pun intended).
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