I recently overheard a collector say this: “I am under a lot of pressure to collect the past-due balance as soon as possible.” Upon hearing this, the customer could be forgiven for assuming they’re in a strong bargaining position. When a debtor thinks they are in the “driver’s seat,” it is more difficult for the collector to negotiate a favorable outcome. I think a much better statement would be: “Your account is seriously past due. We need to reach agreement today about when, meaning how quickly, this past due balance will be cleared.”
I believe the “I’m under a lot of pressure” approach may be an attempt to get the debtor to either feel a shared responsibility with the collector for the status of the account, or that this is an “easy” way for the collector to approach their debtor. But it’s doubtful that a debtor will feel a personal obligation to help the collector. The debtor probably realizes that it’s likely this is how the collector approaches every slow pay customer. As a result, this ‘hoping for help’ approach to collections is likely largely ineffective.
How do you approach customers? As always, I welcome your feedback.
Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.