Collector - September 2016 - (Page 12)

COLLECTIONTIPS Cool It Down How to calm an upset consumer. By Anne Rosso May T he expression "You have to fight fire with fire" is definitely not true with a collection call. Rather, when consumers get angry while you're talking through a debt with them, the best response is the opposite: stay calm. Calls like this can spin out of control quickly if you're not careful. Your job is to make sure the conversation gets back on track. To do this, you need to keep your own emotions out of it while also empathizing with what the consumer is saying. First, don't be afraid to let the consumer vent. Rather than winding them up, venting allows consumers to air their grievances and hopefully move past their anger so they can speak more rationally. It may also yield productive information that can help you collect the debt. Don't interrupt or talk over the consumer, and try not to take what he is saying personally. When there is a pause, show the consumer that you empathize with his feelings. Phrases like "I understand," or "I can see how frustrating that would be," can help align you with the consumer and validate his feelings. Keep your tone even and pleasant. Take personal responsibility for any problems and reassure the consumer that you are there to help. Conversations with angry consumers can be stressful-even when you know you aren't really the reason why the consumer is upset-so pay attention to your physical reactions. Are your muscles tense? Is your heart beating a mile a minute? These may be signs you are letting the consumer's words agitate you. Take note of these physical cues, and take a few deep breaths to refocus and calm yourself. Your listening skills can really shine in these difficult situations. Sift through all the information the consumer is telling you to find the root of the problem. Reflect what 12 you're hearing back to the consumer: "It sounds like..." or "What I'm hearing is..." Say the consumer's name often. There's a reason why self-help author Dale Carnegie called your own name "the sweetest and most important sound in any language." Studies have shown that using a person's name in conversation-"Thanks for that information, John!"-boosts his self-esteem and can help him better connect with what you are saying. People are more likely to be persuaded by someone they like, and establishing a positive relationship is a good way to increase your likability. In general, don't be afraid to engage with upset consumers-often they can be turned around. However, if the situation escalates beyond a point you feel comfortable handling, especially if the consumer is swearing at or threatening you, the best option may be to politely end the call, suggesting you call back at a later date, or pass it on to a supervisor. Follow your agency's policy on escalated calls to ensure you take the appropriate steps. Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector magazine. ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - September 2016

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
5 Ways to Get Electronic Payments Right
Making the Connection
Curious About Amicus Curiae?
Calendar
Honor Roll
Small Talk
Know the Score
What Creditors Need to Know About the TCPA
ACA Industry Advancement Support Helps Secure Victory for Collection Industry in FDCPA Case
Compliance
ACA SearchPoint
Last Word

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