Collection is the art of persuading and influencing people to pay off their debts in the most profitable way, not only for the company but also for the consumer debtor too.
Debtors are people with feeling and with dignity; they ask for respect and empathy. So dealing with them should be as dealing with customers and clients.
As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So as you deal with consumer debtors, you need to think as they think. Put yourself in their shoes. Your empathy will get you farther in your collection efforts.
In this article we will consider the word collector and what it entails.
‘C’ FOR CREATIVITY
The collector to be successful should be given the opportunity to think in a creative way and to work creatively in dealing with the debtors. The collector should be resourceful.
By creativity we mean that the collector will use different approaches and try on different techniques in getting the payment. There is no one way in which to persuade the consumer debtors to pay their outstanding bills. Creativity is only bounded by the imagination of the collector. The sky is the limit. The company will encourage all to use their imagination as long as it produces acceptable and profitable results.
‘O’ FOR ORGANIZED
Organization is very crucial in the collector’s work. It is needed badly. The influx of paperwork is constant and unceasing. If the collector stopped for a moment he or she will see that the work is accumulating drastically. So to beat the paperwork and to keep focused the collector should develop a system that will help him/her to achieve his/her goals in an efficient manner. Thus organization will come into play. By organization we mean the having of a structure, the arrangement into an orderly fashion the different functions associated with the collector’s work. By organization we also mean that a collector should create a process and a daily routine. To succeed, the collector should be highly organized.
‘L’ FOR LEGAL (FIRM)
Remember two words Legal Firm. The collector should always be aware of the legal implications of his/her collection actions. The collector is not only aware of the laws but is also required to proceed with legal action when the situation requires it. The collector needs to be flexible but when firmness is needed, he or she should be firm.
Firmness does not mean to be rude to the debtor, or to humiliate the debtor. It means holding fast to what is right but with dignity and with empathy. It means to be in control of the situation while demanding the full payment.
‘L’ FOR LOOKS AHEAD (PLANS)
The collector should always look ahead and plan for his/her work. Planning ahead involves planning for the day’s activities, establishing short-term goals, as well as long term goals. Planning also includes setting work ethics, setting work standards, routines, and strategies. The collector will plan the day’s activities. Will plan the phone calls. A good phone call is a well prepared one. You will decide on what to say, how much you want to ask, what course of action you will take. All takes place before the phone call is placed. So preparation is essential in planning your strategy. As the collector looks ahead and plans his/her work he/she will always feel in control. As the saying goes it is better to have a poor plan that no plan at all. Having a plan will keep you focused on your goals and will help you to decide on the best course of action to be taken. Plans show you the way you need to follow in your collection efforts so they will prove more productive. They will also indicate any deviations that need to be corrected.
‘E’ FOR THE 4Es
The collector should be reminded of the 4Es—Effectiveness, Efficiency, Excellence and Empathy.
Every collector should be concerned not only with doing things right, but also with doing the right thing. Doing the right thing gets you to your target goal. Doing things right could actually delay you or never get you to the goal. Now doing the right thing right is heavenly. Not only are you effective but also you are efficient. The attitude that the collector should portray is that of excellence. Excellence helps you put into practice another 3 Es—Experience, Education and Expertise. Excellence should be reflected in everything you do reflecting your unique level of skill and expertise gained through experience and education. When a collector reaches a level of efficiency and expertise there is a tendency to become overconfident and sad to say some might become even arrogant. The antidote is Empathy. A collector should always work on empathy. It is empathy that allows the collector to put himself or herself in the shoes of the customer or debtor. It is empathy that allows the collector to connect with the customer, which is very crucial for the success of the collector. In fact this leads us to the next letter in the word Collector that is the other C.
‘C’ FOR COMMUNICATE TO CONNECT
Communication is key in order to connect with the customer or debtor. Communication has to be two-way. It should allow the collector to get to know the customer and become an influence in the behavior of the debtor. A collector who works on his or her communication skills will earn the respect of the debtor. Once respect is earned, a collector becomes more than just a collector. He becomes a friend. He becomes a confidant. He becomes a partner in helping the customer resolve the collection issue. Good communicators listen, listen and listen. The Bible says to “be swift about hearing and slow about speaking.” Yes, listening to a debtor is paramount. When you listen, the debtor opens up and starts to give you clues as to how to collect from him or her. When you listen, the debtor will find you refreshing and he will be more apt to pay you. Thus, I would venture to say that collection productivity would depend on your connectivity to the customer. Feel free to coin the phrase: ‘Connect to collect.’ Communication embodies the use of the phone, personal, face-to-face, communication, written communication such as the use of letters, e-mails, faxes, text messages, etc., and third party communication, such as the use of talk-offs or third parties.
‘T’ FOR TARGET-ORIENTED & TIMELY
Collection is about reaching goals and targets in a timely manner. A collector should be aware of his company goals as well as the department goals. In turn, awareness will lead the collector to establish his own goals to become a positive contributor to the company and the department. Goal setting is key to the success of both the collector and the debtor. A collector should approach a collection call as a goal setting call with the debtor. Both should work to help each other to reach their goals. The collector’s goal is to collect the account, the debtor’s goal is to pay off the debt in order to preserve his credit standing and the relationship with the creditor. Goals should have time frames. They should be realized according to a certain schedule or chronology. Thus Timeliness is key. A collector should be timely is his communication and follow-ups and follow-throughs. The debtor should be timely in his execution and the paying-off of the debt. In collection, we need timely payments, timely promises, timely information, and timely execution.
‘O’ FOR OPEN-MINDED
Every collector should refrain from seeing the world through one set of glasses. Life provides a series of perspectives that only the open-minded can seize. Perspectives add color to the landscape. They show topography, they add dimension and they even give insight. When a collector begins to see in color, it adds meaning and it also affords a new opportunity. To be open-minded also means to see the issues through the eyes of the debtor. When you empathize and begin to see things through the debtor’s eyes, then opportunities begin to emerge. Solutions and alternatives are born! Open-mindedness leads to cooperation and collaboration. And with collaborations comes the precious cash. If you are open-minded then sing the mantra: ‘Collaborate to collect.’
‘R’ FOR RESULTS
Every collector’s success is measured by results. Thus, results make up the fiber of a collector’s being. Results motivate and guide the collector to higher productivity levels. Results pave and lead the way to further success. The ultimate result is to collect the debt in a manner that is not only effective and efficient, but also in a way that preserves the dignity of the debtor and at the same time protects the relationship between the debtor and the creditor. Results are the end product of a realistic, empathetic, systematic, understanding, listening, timely, and sincere process. Collection is not just a financial function; it is also a social and humane function. It is the human touch and the injection of humanity that would generate the goodwill, loyalty and ultimately the willingness on the part of the debtor to part with its most precious and rare resource—cash.
If you seek results then be: