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With the rise of millennials as a larger portion of the consumers who now owe debts, generational collection strategies have become a popular topic. Just this week, Beth Conklin of State Collection Service, Sabrine Salti of American Profit Recovery, and Vivan Chau of TrueAccord joined Mike Gibb from Accountsrecovery.net to discuss this topic during the webinar Speaking The Language of Different Generations When Collecting.
In the last few years data has shown that the generation a consumer belongs to may loosely dictate the communication channels they prefer. For instance, millennials are more likely to open a text message. Boomers may prefer a letter. There are a few other differences that may come in to play when collecting debts from different generations:
- May require more patience and longer phone calls.
- May be more worried about identity theft, takes longer to build trust.
- May feel impatient to end a call before information is verified.
- May ask to verify your agency’s legitimacy online during a call.
But as Conklin, Salti and Chau stressed throughout their panel discussion, successful collections techniques span generations, and seem to boil down to two main factors – empathy and choice.
Show Empathy When Collecting Payments from Any Generation
Customer-centric collection practices have been trending for some time. Industry expert Leslie Bender addressed empathy and conversational intelligence during this year’s Collector Live virtual conference.
During the recent Accounts Recovery webinar, Conklin said you don’t know merely by a consumer’s age or the state of their account what their situation may be. Necessary information can and should be received from consumers during the first call (because you may never guarantee there will be a second). Using active listening and empathizing with their situation is the best way to build rapport, learn what you need to and boost recovery in the process.
Pay attention to who you're talking to, and listen to what they have to say.Beth Conklin
Salti echoed this sentiment. The only true way to know what is happening with your consumers is to get in contact with them, and begin a dialogue. She encouraged collectors to be prepared to adjust calls accordingly.
The needs of each consumer will differ, and they will often express these needs during conversation when they feel comfortable. If someone is wary of being scammed, help direct them to your website to ease their minds. If a consumer wants to pay immediately but is worried about it processing properly, offer to stay on the line to confirm. Emphasize you are there to help.
Offer Choice When Collecting Payments
Chau notes that all generations appreciate someone who understands their perspective. By offering choice for account resolution, agencies can decrease complaints while closing more accounts, faster.
Offering online payments may be the method of choice for a millennial or a tech savvy baby boomer. A text message payment reminder may be just how generation z wants to resolve their past due accounts but a gen xer may still prefer a letter in the mail. Offering multiple payment methods and a variety of communication channels is no longer simply nice to have, it is a necessity to stay competitive.
As the panelists said, listen closely to your consumers. Use empathy to understand what they are saying, and then be the problem-solver they need by offering choices for resolution. To learn more about collecting from consumers of different generations, download this guide: