Annoying Your Customers – Michael Dennis, CBF

Some words that are commonly used by collectors annoy customers. Here are a few examples: ‘Fair’, ‘Reasonable’, ‘Honest’, ‘Rational.’ In the relevant context, a collector might say:

  • We need a fair and reasonable commitment for payment.
  • I want an honest answer.
  • Please provide a rational explanation for the deduction.

Implicit in the collector’s use of these words is the suggestion that the debtor is not fair, not reasonable, not honest and not rational. What’s my advice? Choose your words carefully because more carefully chosen words will open up the conversation, create a dialogue and help you uncover the reasons behind the payment delay. Annoying words, while they may sound reasonable to you, tend to limit your conversations, put customer in defense mode, and make problem resolution less likely.

Alternative phrases you could use:

  • We need to reach a commitment for payment, today.
  • Is there anything more you can tell me about this (transaction, invoice, statement, check) that could help us resolve this problem?
  • There is an unauthorized deduction on the account. I would like to know the reason for it so we can address this deduction, and prevent similar problems in the future.
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

What other phrases or words trigger unproductive responses? Please share them with readers below.

Author Michael C. Dennis. Michael is a consultant and the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit, a free, fast online resource: