Collector - November 2017 - 12

COLLECTIONTIPS

Goal, Interrupted
How to redirect a conversation without ruining your rapport with the consumer.
By Anne Rosso May

I

t's easy for a collection conversation to
get off track. Consumers who feel that
you need to hear an overly complicated
explanation of the circumstances that lead
to the debt or who would rather talk about
anything but the debt can go off on long
tangents that don't add up to a productive
conversation-plus they can prevent you from
taking more calls, increasing others' wait times.
But interrupting a consumer is tricky,
especially when your job requires you
to build rapport and trust. Talking over
consumers or saying, "Let me stop you
right there..." when they are in the middle
of a sentence won't endear you to them and
may cause them to shut down completely.
Here are some tips to help you politely and
professionally interrupt a consumer when
necessary.

help consumers feel heard and may provide an
easy segue back to the collection conversation.

SECOND: WHEN TO INTERRUPT
Some people are just naturally chatty and
can easily get off on tangents, but redirecting
them requires a great deal of tact. "Can I talk
now?" won't get the job done.
If a panicked consumer charges into the
conversation without a break, try gently
saying, "Your questions are important, but
do you mind if we pause for a moment so
I can access your account before we move
forward, Steve?" Using the consumer's name
will help get his attention.
Mirroring, also known as reflective
listening, can help you keep consumers on

track by paraphrasing what they are telling
you. For instance, if the consumer is relaying
a long story about his hospital experience,
you could say, "OK, let me summarize what
I'm hearing from you..."
Another good technique is to throw in
a close-ended question that requires a yes
or no answer, like: "What you're telling me
is that due to a death in the family, you
got behind on your finances, correct?"
Once the consumer confirms that you've
heard what they are saying, you can steer
the conversation in a more productive
direction.
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector
magazine.

FIRST: WHEN NOT TO INTERRUPT
There are times when it's better just to sit
back and listen. If the consumer is trying to
articulate a thought that can help push the
conversation forward, obviously you want
her to continue uninterrupted-especially if
you sense she is building to a relevant point.
Use this time to get a better sense of
what the true problem is and how you can
help the consumer move forward to resolve
the debt. You can also get insight into the
consumer's personality and adjust your
approach accordingly.
Consumers who are upset or emotional
often need to vent, so let them. Even if you
think consumers' anger is unfounded, keep
in mind that their feelings are real to them.
Interrupting a rant will only escalate the
situation.
When consumers have finished venting,
acknowledge their feelings. Saying things like,
"I understand completely; let me see how I can
help," or "I've documented what you've said," can

12

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - November 2017

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
Making the Right Choice
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Highlight Reel
Putting it all Together
Calendar
Honor Roll
On Call
Hire Purpose
CFPB Pursues Two Student Loan Servicers
Compliance
ACA SearchPoint
Last Word
Collector - November 2017 - Cover1
Collector - November 2017 - Cover2
Collector - November 2017 - 1
Collector - November 2017 - Upfront
Collector - November 2017 - 3
Collector - November 2017 - Industry News
Collector - November 2017 - 5
Collector - November 2017 - 6
Collector - November 2017 - 7
Collector - November 2017 - Best Practices
Collector - November 2017 - 9
Collector - November 2017 - FYI
Collector - November 2017 - 11
Collector - November 2017 - Collection Tips
Collector - November 2017 - 13
Collector - November 2017 - Making the Right Choice
Collector - November 2017 - 15
Collector - November 2017 - 16
Collector - November 2017 - 17
Collector - November 2017 - Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Collector - November 2017 - 19
Collector - November 2017 - 20
Collector - November 2017 - 21
Collector - November 2017 - 22
Collector - November 2017 - 23
Collector - November 2017 - 24
Collector - November 2017 - 25
Collector - November 2017 - Highlight Reel
Collector - November 2017 - 27
Collector - November 2017 - 28
Collector - November 2017 - 29
Collector - November 2017 - 30
Collector - November 2017 - 31
Collector - November 2017 - Putting it all Together
Collector - November 2017 - 33
Collector - November 2017 - 34
Collector - November 2017 - 35
Collector - November 2017 - Calendar
Collector - November 2017 - Honor Roll
Collector - November 2017 - On Call
Collector - November 2017 - 39
Collector - November 2017 - Hire Purpose
Collector - November 2017 - 41
Collector - November 2017 - CFPB Pursues Two Student Loan Servicers
Collector - November 2017 - 43
Collector - November 2017 - Compliance
Collector - November 2017 - 45
Collector - November 2017 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector - November 2017 - 47
Collector - November 2017 - Last Word
Collector - November 2017 - Cover3
Collector - November 2017 - Cover4
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