Creating customer satisfaction (CSAT) is the key to raising the bottom line of any collection agency. How can agents create this change in an industry that almost by nature breeds negative feelings between creditors and the debtors they’re contacting?
In this article, we’ll be looking at five tips to help increase average collection amounts, expedite payback times, and ensure compliance marks are met by gearing agents to focus on improving customer satisfaction.
Tip 1 – Give Debtors The Benefit of the Doubt
One of the worst things you can do as a debt collector is view the debtors you’re calling as an enemy to be conquered. The fact is, most people’s conscience will draw them to pay back the debts they owe — they just may not be able to pay the full amount at that time.
If you operate from this empathetic mindset, negotiating becomes more about you as an ally of the debtor helping to find a solution to a problem that you both want to solve.
Tip 2 – Know Your Facts and Your Limits
Before you go into any negotiation, it’s important that you fully understand the case and the customer. While this may limit the number of calls you’re able to complete in a day, it will help to get the most productive results from each call you’re able to make. Knowledge is power — so always be prepared by reading the facts of the case first. This will allow you to anticipate objections and mentally prepare your responses ahead of time.
In addition to understanding the cases you’re dealing with, it’s also important to have an intimate grasp of debt collection best practices. We encourage all collection agents to have a solid understanding of Regulation F and how it impacts the industry at large. This will help you to understand what is and isn’t appropriate during the course of negotiation.
Tip 3 – Start Firm, Then Meet in the Middle
You had all of the facts and you were prepared. You even checked their social media and saw the pictures of that new boat confirming that they are definitely not broke. Now you’re explaining the consequences with your remaining patience.
We get it, you’ve heard all the excuses and it’s frustrating. This is where negotiation comes in. Ask for their side of the story and then see if they have any ideas for how you can reach a mutually beneficial payment plan. You can always return a counteroffer if their ideas are not reasonable, but opening the avenue for negotiation is crucial.
If the debtor can walk away from the call feeling like they’ve been able to communicate their stance and reach a compromise on their terms, then you’ve both won.
As a bonus tip, getting debtors to agree to some immediate action can show huge results for your bottom line. This could either be reaching an agreement for partial payment upfront or arranging some type of collateral to secure future payments. It’s important to hold them accountable to the deal they have made in a way that is both respectful and firm.
Tip 4 – Manage Your Own Emotions
“The true challenge in the negotiation is not managing the emotions of the person that we’re talking to, so that they will listen to us. It’s managing our own emotions so that we can listen to them.”
– Dan Oblinger (Negotiation expert) in an interview with ACA International
If there’s one sure thing in the collection industry it’s that all agents will deal with hostile conversations. Being in debt is frustrating and often embarrassing. For this reason, a debtor’s initial reaction to a collection call will seldom be positive.
For you, as an agent, it’s important that you don’t reciprocate those tense and negative feelings. This does not mean you have to ignore your own emotions, but rather challenge your initial instinct to react aggressively. Give yourself time to absorb what you’ve heard and respond rather than simply reacting.
Tip 5 – Utilize Modern AI Solutions
Since call centers rely on humans to operate, there is always a degree of error. Whether this comes in the form of agents going off-script, lacking necessary information, over sympathizing, or just getting caught up in a hostile exchange — there are modern solutions.
Balto’s Real-Time Coaching (RTC) enables managers to identify and react to errors like these by setting up triggers. If these triggers are set off, an alert will be sent to management allowing them to immediately listen in on the call and get things pointed back in a productive direction. And agents can keep emotions in check with subtle nudges to slow down or alter their language to be more empathetic.
In addition to RTC, Balto offers other AI solutions for the issues facing call centers. The benefits of these modern tools will provide the necessary data for effective A/B testing, improving agents’ script compliance, and identifying areas where negotiation tactics can be improved. If you’d like to learn more about how Balto can help you boost revenue and customer satisfaction ratings for your collection center, we encourage you to book a demo today.