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7 Strategies To Help You Collect On Your Broken Promises

If you work in collections, you see it all the time. Promise are made – Promises are broken. Being in the collection space for over 25 years, the industry has changed quite a bit. However, when it comes to recovering money, some things never change.  

Here a 7 strategies to help you collect on your broken promises efficiently and effectively.

  • Read your notes

Your first step is reading your notes. (That is if you took down notes the first time)

Where were they going to pay? Why were they past due? When? How much? Who were you speaking with? You always want to create a strategy and action plan before you open your mouth.

Always remember a weak promise from someone who breaks them all the time is useless.

  • Don’t rush through your call

Good collectors understand that it's all about efficiency and effectiveness. The customer who broke the promise might not be honest or sincere, but they at least picked up the phone and talked to you. Take your time and don’t rush through it.

What do debtors want? For you to get off the phone and go away.

Slow the conversation down and create a 2 way dialogue. 

  • Seek first to understand – Why is it broken?

Asking questions is critical to the collection process. And, it’s extremely important when handling broken promises.  You can ask questions like:  

  • Why did you not make the previous payment?
  • Are you behind with other creditors?
  • Are you currently working at XYZ?

Your goal as a collector is not to get a promise to pay. Collections is about getting payments and results with integrity. Some call centers and collection operators get caught up in the key performance indicators and lose sight of why they are calling.

  • Relate

If the customer thinks that you don’t care about them, they won’t care about your bill. One of the easiest ways to build rapport is to show empathy. You can say things like:

  • Mr. Customer, I was in your shoes in the past, and had collectors calling me all the time. I understand it’s difficult. My goal is to help you get through this. However, when we make arrangements, I need you to follow through or I won’t be able to help you. If you can’t follow through, you need to call me. We will work through this together.

By building trust, the customer will open up more. And, have a greater chance of paying. The last thing you want is for the debtor to go AWOL and disappear. You want to keep them engaged and talking.

  • Bridge and explain what will happen if 

Let your past due customer know what are the consequences are for not paying. I always find the best way to build trust, is to position it that you are not the decision maker. The client or the “manager” is deciding on next steps with the collection file.

For example, you can say something like “If you keep breaking payment arrangements, the file will be off my desk and I won’t be able to help you. And, my goal is help you get through this”  

  • Follow up

I see this all the time with companies. They have admin staff that don’t want to call collection customers because they hate asking for money. So, they send letters and emails. And, if they don’t pay, they just let it go. If you want to recover your money, you need to be persistent and follow up.

Collecting money takes commitment, drive and understanding.

  • Escalate to a Third Party

Sometimes you will need a third party organization like a collection agency or lawyer’s office to create urgency and get your customer to pay. If your customer continually breaks promises and deadlines, don’t hold the file to long. Sometimes, it’s best to escalate to the next level.

If you need any help with your past due accounts, feel free to touch base.

7 Debt Collection Strategies to Improve Your Bottom Line

Congratulations! You just hired a new call centre employee. They spent a few weeks in training and now they are scheduled to hit the call centre floor. The question is, are they ready to handle your customers inquiries and complaints?

Are your agents feeling overwhelmed? Most likely!

Getting the bodies in the seats to reduce wait times and meeting the customer’s needs is critical. And, you don’t want to stress out the agents and have them quit.

If you have your new agents focus on these 6 principles - most of your calls will be winners.

1.      Confidence

It doesn’t matter what type of calls you are making or taking, you need to sound confident on the phones. If you don’t sound confident, the customer won’t believe what you are saying.

That’s great but what if they don’t have confidence yet?

Fake it until you make it.

In between calls, have your team practice positive self talk. Have them say things like “I am good on the phones, customers want to buy from me”

If they had a good call, cheer their progress. And obviously, you as a leader need to be there. Get away from your desk, walk around, and help your team.

2.      Listening

Most new hires are nervous about going on the phones. They tend to talk fast and they are unsure of themselves. Good listening skills are critical to sales and customer service.

When you don’t listen, you miss key pieces of information that will help solve the customers problem. Listening means you are focusing on your customer. It gives you time to think and find a way to solve the problem.

3.      Build Rapport By Using The Customers Name

With every customer contact, you want to solve problem and create a connection. Every contact call is an opportunity to show your customers how much you care, and strengthen your brand. However, it's not always easy to make and keep your customers happy.

One of the easiest ways to create a connection with a customer is to use the customer’s name. Everyone loves to hear their name. It's a simple and easy step to help you build rapport. 

4.      Ask Good Questions

Asking quality questions will give your agents the ability to steer the conversation, create credibility, and not prolong the call. However, you can't ask effective questions unless you are closely listening to customer and understanding the problem.

Paraphrasing the customers concern and then following up with quality questions will help your agents steer the call and satisfy the customers needs.

5.      Empathy

It’s about understanding what the customer has gone through. Sometimes the customer is upset. Really upset! You can use key phrases like “I understand”, “That has happened to me”, “I agree”, “I hear you”, “I get it, let me see what I can do”

When you show the customer empathy, most times it will calm a potential escalation situation.

6.      Have Fun

The call centre role is not easy. They will have great calls and difficult ones. They need to expect it. If they come into work with a bad attitude, they will hate the job and it will rub off on other members of the team. And that wouldn't take long.

Ramping up new hires is not easy. But, if you can have your team focus on these 6 core principles, you will be off to a great start! 

6 Strategies For New Call Centre Agents

Congratulations! You just hired a new call centre employee. They spent a few weeks in training and now they are scheduled to hit the call centre floor. The question is, are they ready to handle your customers inquiries and complaints?

Are your agents feeling overwhelmed? Most likely!

Getting the bodies in the seats to reduce wait times and meeting the customer’s needs is critical. And, you don’t want to stress out the agents and have them quit.

If you have your new agents focus on these 6 principles - most of your calls will be winners.

1.      Confidence

It doesn’t matter what type of calls you are making or taking, you need to sound confident on the phones. If you don’t sound confident, the customer won’t believe what you are saying.

That’s great but what if they don’t have confidence yet?

Fake it until you make it.

In between calls, have your team practice positive self talk. Have them say things like “I am good on the phones, customers want to buy from me”

If they had a good call, cheer their progress. And obviously, you as a leader need to be there. Get away from your desk, walk around, and help your team.

2.      Listening

Most new hires are nervous about going on the phones. They tend to talk fast and they are unsure of themselves. Good listening skills are critical to sales and customer service.

When you don’t listen, you miss key pieces of information that will help solve the customers problem. Listening means you are focusing on your customer. It gives you time to think and find a way to solve the problem.

3.      Build Rapport By Using The Customers Name

With every customer contact, you want to solve problem and create a connection. Every contact call is an opportunity to show your customers how much you care, and strengthen your brand. However, it's not always easy to make and keep your customers happy.

One of the easiest ways to create a connection with a customer is to use the customer’s name. Everyone loves to hear their name. It's a simple and easy step to help you build rapport. 

4.      Ask Good Questions

Asking quality questions will give your agents the ability to steer the conversation, create credibility, and not prolong the call. However, you can't ask effective questions unless you are closely listening to customer and understanding the problem.

Paraphrasing the customers concern and then following up with quality questions will help your agents steer the call and satisfy the customers needs.

5.      Empathy

It’s about understanding what the customer has gone through. Sometimes the customer is upset. Really upset! You can use key phrases like “I understand”, “That has happened to me”, “I agree”, “I hear you”, “I get it, let me see what I can do”

When you show the customer empathy, most times it will calm a potential escalation situation.

6.      Have Fun

The call centre role is not easy. They will have great calls and difficult ones. They need to expect it. If they come into work with a bad attitude, they will hate the job and it will rub off on other members of the team. And that wouldn't take long.

Ramping up new hires is not easy. But, if you can have your team focus on these 6 core principles, you will be off to a great start! 

Thanks For Firing Me!

Have you ever been fired from a job? Have you walked into an office and had a manager tell you that it’s not working and they need to let you go? Have you experienced the range of emotions from feeling sorry for yourself, to feeling angry, upset or reflective?

Yep, I have been there!

I was 19 years old and working for an electrical company as a helper in Toronto. At that time, my goal was to be electrician and this was an opportunity to get my foot in the door. I was on the job only 2 weeks when they decided to have me self train on how to operate a forklift.

I was working at the Canadian National Exhibition and this company provided electrical services and lighting. As part of the role, I needed to operate a forklift and move lighting equipment. They had me practice driving a forklift around a small yard for 2 hours than decided to place the extended forks on the lift and send me to one of the busy buildings.

I am not making excuses, but the company should never have sent me to a busy building on a forklift without proper training. Unlike a car, when you drive a forklift, its easy (at least for a rookie) to misjudge how much space you need.

Well, some poor worker who was pushing a piano cut out in front of me in building got my forks driven in the back of his leg. It was my fault and I felt awful. I was sick to my stomach that I hurt the guy. I knew this accident would have consequences.

Sure enough a day later, I get pulled into the office and the general manager let me go. It seems the piano man and his company were going to seek legal action against the company. I was FIRED!

What is it like being fired?

It was awful. I had never been fired before and always had good relationships with my employers. I was mad and filled with self pity. What will my parents say? What was I going to do now? I had a career map and it was now smashed.

Over time you realize that you can’t change the past. I didn’t intentionally hit the guy. Sometimes things will happen and you need to roll with it. With every door that closes, another door will open up.

This experience sparked several changes that pushed me to university, and a long history in the finance and contact centre industry. Everything happens for a reason. Its hard but you can’t dwell on the past, you need to keep moving on.

Over the years, I’ve had to let call centre staff go. My own personal experience of being fired, helped me understand what its like being on the other side of the table. I am always empathetic and try to help the employee find a path that best suits them.

Letting staff go is not fun. Unfortunately it’s part of business. It’s part of life. But, keep your head up. When one door closes, it means you are that much closer to the door you are meant to open.

3 Things to Look For When Hiring

Hiring the right person for your business is critical. The wrong hire can cost you time. It can cost your business lots of money. It can also have a negative impact on the team.

I have been hiring staff for over 20 years. And, I have made some great picks and some didn’t turn out.

When you interview, some human resource professionals will tell you to use behavior interviewing techniques to screen staff. Some may tell you use personality testing. Everyone has an opinion.

I personally like to simplify the process. Focus on what is most important. Here are my 3 key qualities I look for when interviewing managers.

Integrity

So, what is integrity to me? It’s all about having strong moral principles and being honest. I am looking for employees that are going to help me and the company win. When there are mistakes, they will own up to them and have the confidence to speak up.

I would always prefer a manager that is brutally honest about what is working (and what’s not). I really don’t think authoritative management styles work anymore. I am not an insecure leader. I don’t need constant praise. For me, I get more satisfaction seeing my team do well. Watching my team hit the performance targets. Making more money. And, Growing with the company.

At the end of the day, your managers need to trust you. And you need to TRUST them. You need to ask yourself, will they do whatever it takes to meet and exceed performance targets? Will they find solutions or hide? At the same time, I believe it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY to do whatever it takes to help my manager grow? It’s a 2 way street.

GRIT

Grit is having the perseverance to get things done regardless of obstacles or set backs.  Do they give up easily? Or, do they keep fighting and find a solution? Are they proactive? Challenges come up. That’s part of business. That’s part of life. You may not have control over the challenges that cross your desk. But, you have control over you handle it.

Do they have the confidence to approach you and collaborate to fix the problem?

Are they goal driven and competitive? Do they have short term and long term career goals and strategies to get there?

People Skills

Anthony Robins says the quality of your life is a result of the quality of your communication. Having the ability to inspire and motivate is critical. Can they control their emotions?

Workers usually leave a company because they are not feeling appreciated.  A bad front line manager can impact lots of workers and other managers.

I ask questions to see how they coach employees. Do they sell their ideas and motivate the staff? Or do they just bark orders? Do they build strong win/win relationships with their employees? When they see the employee do something right, do they bring it up? Or, do they just coach when something is wrong?

Obviously you are also looking at other qualities like job specific skills, education, knowledge base, past results etc. But, I do believe Integrity, Grit and People skills are the 3 most important qualities in any new manager.