Many collectors experience call center burnout in their careers. Back to back negative calls, pressure to meet goals and countless other factors can contribute. When your call center agents are in this position, they can’t recognize missing opportunities for collection (making the problem worse).
Luckily, CollectorLive! provides debt collectors in all stages of their careers with tools, tips and education to elevate accounts receivable processes. This year’s entirely on-demand format takes the program to a new level, allowing offices to view sessions whenever works best for them.
In Win the Battle by Being OK With Losing the Conversation, Beth Conklin, Director of Organizational Training and Development at State Collection Service, Inc., discussed how to avoid call center stress by addressing setbacks and learning from mistakes.
Causes of Call Center Anxiety
Diving into payment options before asking for a balance in full, letting the impact of a negative call linger or repeating errors throughout many calls are bad habits. If these behaviors aren’t addressed, long-term performance will suffer – along with career satisfaction.
Here are Conklin’s coping strategies to help front line agents recognize missed opportunities, learn from them, move on and grow as professionals.
Overcoming Call Center Anxiety
L – Learn From Missed Opportunities
Every debt collector has experienced the stress and disappointment of a missed opportunity. These problems can happen for countless reasons, but oftentimes, it’s as simple as becoming careless or inattentive during calls.
“We like to follow our script but one thing we have to remember and use from this opportunity of losing the conversation is every call is unique,” says Conklin. “We get so used to saying and doing the same thing, we don’t use our active listening skills.”
Of course, once an issue has occurred, there is no way to go back. The first step to success moving forward is to reflect on and learn from the missed opportunity. Learning from mistakes reduces frustration and gives you an action plan for the future.
O – Own Your Missed Opportunities
Owning missed opportunities means admitting when you have missed a chance on a call. Accepting a lower offer than necessary – or any other impacts to your collection goal – can be frustrating.
However, taking responsibility for errors is essential to employee professional development. Spend time honestly thinking about your job performance and how to improve in the future.
S – Shake it Off
Conklin knows that even with the best attitude, the feelings from a bad call can stay with you. Don’t let a negative interaction or the disappointment of a mistake ruin other opportunities. Shaking off those negative feelings will clear your head for the next consumer interaction.
“Sometimes, especially in our world today with it all being remote and virtual, you don’t have the ability to get up out of your office and go to the cubicle next door,” says Conklin. Without this social support, it is even more crucial to find stress-relieving techniques that work for you.
I – Don’t Indulge
“If you are experiencing that lost conversation because the consumer’s angry or they’re frustrated, or they’re just disagreeing with everything you’re saying and they’re refusing all of the options you’re providing them – it’s not a battle of wills,” Conklin reminds us. “This is when you need to start using positive word choices. This is when you need to start applying empathy.”
Many lost conversations happen when agents experience contention, frustration or resistance. Don’t indulge in these negative conversations with consumers. Instead, make an effort to put consumers at ease and help them understand you are here to help.
N – Never Give Up
Positive mental attitude is the key to success. Tone of voice, demeanor, or a consumer’s financial situation may impact calls. Focusing on the factors that you can control on each call will help ease tensions.
Remember, call resolution isn’t always monetary. A successful call could also mean resolving a dispute or telling consumers about financial assistance options. Just because you didn’t collect a payment, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the conversation.
G – Gaining Your Knowledge
“As you continue to grow and as you continue to use these examples and these missed opportunities when you’re losing control of a call, the silver lining behind it,” says Conklin, “is that you can use all those missed opportunities to gain knowledge.”
Continue to reflect on past calls, maintain a positive attitude and work to resolve each consumer’s accounts. The more knowledge you gain, the better results you will see as you apply more knowledge to your work.
Conklin urges accounts receivable professionals to follow this system to enhance performance, combat call center burnout and build skills for the future. These tips for how to deal with stress in a call center will help debt collectors thrive and turn losing into winning.
There are many factors that lead to a successful call center interaction. Attitude, determination, and even tone of voice can impact outcomes. To learn more about using your voice to persuade and put consumers at ease, download Payment Collection: Using Your Voice as a Tool of Persuasion.