Collector - September 2016 - (Page 12)
Cool It Down
How to calm an upset consumer.
By Anne Rosso May
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
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
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - September 2016
5 Ways to Get Electronic Payments Right
Making the Connection
Curious About Amicus Curiae?
Know the Score
What Creditors Need to Know About the TCPA
ACA Industry Advancement Support Helps Secure Victory for Collection Industry in FDCPA Case
Collector - September 2016