Consumers are becoming harder than ever to reach. Call blocking, call screening and consumer preference for text, email and other digital communication methods make right party contact on a collection call more difficult.
Many collection industry professionals have recognized this trend. Instead of speeding through calls to increase the number of contacts made each day, many are advocating for a more mindful approach to consumer interactions.
Quality Collection Calls Are a Must
Many agents know that reaching consumers is getting harder. Because of this, a collector’s instinct may be to rush through as many calls as possible to increase the number of RPCs each day. However, getting a consumer on the phone is only the first step of a successful collection call. Overall success as a collector comes down to the care and quality given to each consumer, every single call.
The pressure to rush through the current call to get onto the next is counter-intuitive to how most successful collectors operate. A measured approach with each consumer will yield positive results that build to greater overall collection call success. Beth Conklin of State Collection Service, Inc., is one such advocate for high quality collection calls.
Obtaining what she calls “F and C” from consumers each call – full and complete information – can improve the call’s outcome. Conklin says that the information you gain and the rapport you build during the first consumer contact is essential. After all, it’s likely that this first contact might also be the only contact you ever have with the consumer. Rushing them off the phone to get to the next account may guarantee you never collect a debt they are willing and able to pay.
Tips for a Better Collection Call
There are many factors that can cause a collection call to go poorly. Instances like not acknowledging the generational differences of a consumer or not recognizing call baiting can run the spectrum from a bad call to a possible FDCPA violation. The best defence against anything that might happen is education.
Practice Basic Conversation Skills
Understanding the essence of a conversation is especially important in debt collection. You need to walk the line between talking about sensitive information (such as a consumer’s finances) and stopping short of asking inappropriate or uncomfortable questions.
Understanding and practicing conversational intelligence can guide conversations through empathy and understanding. Identifying cues that indicate a consumer is uncomfortable or that you are asking for more than they are willing to tell can help keep calls positive and respectful. Respect, empathy, and understanding boundaries are all ways to build rapport with consumers and have a higher quality dialogue.
Learn Voice Techniques
Something as simple as how you are speaking can also have an impact on collection calls. Your voice and speaking patterns can be used as a tool of persuasion, or can serve as a distraction. Speaking too quickly, speaking with a thin, high or nasal voice, or ending all sentences on a higher note (known as ‘up-speak’) can interfere in your conversations.
Being mindful of your pitch and intonation in conversations can present you as more authoritative and confident. These are traits that will inspire trust with consumers, and lead to more positive outcomes during collection calls. Practice common call phrases in your spare time until you are comfortable.
Hone Payment Negotiation Tactics
Negotiating for the highest possible payment is a basic measurement of success in debt collection. Reevaluating how you create recurring payment plans can increase receivables and provide a better solution for consumers. Although they may hesitate to pay more money per month, or make payments each paycheck, these types of plans ensure a quicker debt resolution.
Many consumers have been avoiding the unpleasant task of paying overdue bills. Offering them a realistic solution or helping them become debt free in a shorter time frame often creates a sense of relief and builds trust in you and your agency.
Standardize Your Collection Calls
It’s difficult to know what to expect before you make contact with a consumer. However, similar elements occur in most calls, and many successful collectors have come up with systems to help each call go smoothly.
Kelly Parsons-O’Brien, Pacific Credit Services has many tips for improving communications with consumers. One such tactic for higher quality collection calls is to follow a three-step system when overcoming objections.
- Validate the consumer’s stall or objection
- Make them feel good
- Tell them what you CAN do
Parsons-O'Brien's goal with this approach is consumer advocacy. The system uses empathy and active listening to ensure consumers feel heard and encourages collectors to drive calls in a positive direction by offering solutions.
Tools For a Better Collection Call
Along with preparing yourself to speak to consumers, it’s important to equip the proper tools for a high-quality call. With the advancement of digital communication software to streamline collection, you can boost the quality of your collection calls from start to finish.
In a recent webinar, Joann Needleman of Clark Hill Law discussed the impact these new technologies can have on the collection process. Text messaging and email are becoming not just popular, but the preferred modes of communication for many consumers.
Sending recurring payment agreements and payment reminders through text and email notifications – rather than mailing them – can speed up the payment process. Often the struggle is trusting a consumer to sign and return documents before proceeding with a payment schedule. If they receive and sign documents digitally while a collector is speaking to them in real-time, consumers are much more likely to follow through with payments, and feel more involved in the debt resolution process.
The more tools you have to improve a collection call, the better. PDCflow’s software allows collectors to send and receive documents and photos, request signatures and receive payments in real-time while a consumer is still on the phone.
- The software supports these workflows through text or email messages as well as through links that can be provided through a chat feature on your website.
- Dual-authentication required to access these messages protects sensitive information from being accessed by anyone other than the intended party.
- Customized messaging means you can add the disclosures your agency needs to remain compliant.
- A documented audit trail proves the intended consumer received, verified identity, signed and authorized consent to payments, agreements or other needed documents.
- Use PDCflow software to get consent for future digital communications so your agency can send them payment reminders and other communications via text or email.
To learn more about how PDCflow can increase your collection call quality and lock in more payments while consumers are on the phone, sign up for a demo today.
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- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Hannah Huerta, Marketing Specialist
Hannah Huerta is a Marketing Specialist at PDCflow. She creates content for the accounts receivable and payment industry.