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Legal Collections – What is a difficult customer Elvis?

September 29, 2015
Debt Collection

Every now and then I am seized by a musical itch when writing my blogs, and today, the King himself is the irritant! But ‘that’s all right’ because who doesn’t love Elvis?

I mentioned difficult customers rather generically in an earlier blog, but didn’t really expand on them and what they mean to collections and legal collections at the time because sometimes ‘a little less conversation’ is better than too much.

However, a collector subjected to an angry or embarrassed customer, is likely to end up ‘all shook up’ if they are unprepared and unskilled in dealing with them. The customer doesn’t particularly care if they come across as rude or aggressive at the time, they’re likely are being subjected to multiple attempts to collect money and will probably perceive you as ‘the devil in disguise’. ‘Blue suede shoe’ on the other foot, you’d probably feel the same!

But if a customer is actually talking to you, then dealing with them being difficult is a small price to pay…because now you have the opportunity to influence the outcome, to woo and educate that customer as to what you can do for them and alleviate their ‘suspicious mind’. By laying out how you can help, you can gain their trust and ultimately their commitment to repaying what they owe.

But what does an actual bona fide difficult customer sound like? Well, every collector will have their own thoughts on this, but in actual fact it’s often the situation, not the person, that’s causing the problem. In turn causing a type of behaviour that may be particularly difficult even so, what one collector will see the customer as a ‘Hound dog’ but another collector may simply see them as a ‘Teddy Bear’ and overlook the behaviour. It’s all a matter of how your collector reacts.

So, more often we are not looking at a difficult customer, but looking at difficult behaviour, even something as innocuous as a language barrier can cause the collector to feel challenged in some way which has a knock on effect on their normal responses. A collector needs to have genuine empathy and tact to deal with difficult behaviour, to not want to punish the customer through a poor and knee jerk reaction. To say ‘that’s all right’ and I don’t have a ‘wooden heart’!

A collector needs to understand that their reactivity to difficult behaviour dictates the on-going relationship and ultimately the customer outcome. Unskilled attempts at assertiveness can still appear as indirect aggression maybe something as simple as not fully listening, not explaining, overly long holds and even sighing loudly or tutting. These things are done consciously so ‘don’t be cruel’ it only exacerbates the situation and irks the customer more.

A collector needs to enter the arena as an equal, the customer will already be feeling like they are ‘in the ghetto’ a collector can help them achieve ‘the impossible dream’ and help them resolve the situation that’s causing their difficult behaviour or else they could destroy any chance of a successful outcome, the customer will simply ‘return to sender’ … and if they do that I have to ask ’who’s sorry now!’

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.

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