How a Credit Professional Can Have More Conversations that Count

What type of impression are you leaving? How effective are your communication skills? As you either thumb through your daily planner or scan through your smart phone, review your recent interactions. Did any of the following issues arise?

  • You were asked to speak up or repeat yourself
  • Your message was misunderstood
  • You couldn’t get the full attention of your audience
  • You didn’t get the results or reactions you had anticipated
  • You didn’t make the sale or close the transaction

These phenomena are quite common in the course of the typical business day. What causes these missed opportunities? Usually the missed opportunity stems from one of the following communications flaws:

  • Speaking too rapidly
  • Speaking with too low of a volume level
  • Slurring your words or mumbling
  • Speaking in a tone that lacks confidence, interest, or authority
  • Failing to organize your thoughts before speaking
  • Lacking eye contact or other non-verbal body language to support your message
  • Speaking too much and listening too little

Whether it’s nervous energy or just bad habits, the results are the same. Your message is not understood as you intended. Improving your communication skills takes time and practice. Even the best speakers benefit from rehearsal and preparation!

  • If you are preparing for an important call or conversation, take a few minutes to jot notes and
    organize your thoughts. Locate a mirror and smile as you speak on the phone.
  • If you find yourself speaking rapidly, try emphasizing the pronunciation of important words. Give the listener something to remember.
  • Ask questions! Check to see if your message is being understood by the audience.
  • Practice presentations in front of a mirror. Make sure your gestures and body language match your intentions.

Great communication skills set you apart from the rest of the pack. If it is worth saying, it is worth being understood.

About the Author

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized voice and speech coach for business professionals. She is specially trained in voice, speech, and English improvement. For more information
or to schedule an interview or assessment with Dunnigan, call (317)843-2983 or visit her website at

CMA Holiday Hours

In an effort to allow for our staff to spend time with their families during the holiday season, the CMA offices will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we’ll be open until noon on New Year’s Eve and closed New Year’s day. The office will be open during normal hours Monday through Friday on all days except for those.

From everyone at Credit Management Association, we wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season, and look forward to serving you in 2016.

The Power of Friendliness in Business Communication

By Marcel Wiedenbrugge

It must have been about 13 years ago that I was spending a long weekend with my scuba diving buddies. I remember one evening, I had a discussion about the stupidity of many people working in customer service and how they annoyed me. “Every time I explain something to them, it seems as if they do not want to understand what the issue is…it drives me crazy, etc, etc”.

While I was ranting, one of my friends interrupted my heated monologue and said: “I don’t agree with your approach.” His comment triggered my curiosity, so I asked him: “What approach would you suggest then?”

So he told his story that he worked as a project engineer in the chemical industry, when he was responsible for the construction of large chemical plants. Part of his responsibilities involved managing foreign personnel. Unfortunately, his instructions were apparently not always thoroughly understood. That led to mistakes, and to co-workers who seemed quite consistently not willing to learn from their mistakes. This annoyed him so much that it started to impact his mood and health.

One day he told his wife about it and they started to think and talk how he could solve this problem. He told me that took him three months to come up with an answer. By now, I was really drawn into this story, so I asked: “Well, what was your solution?” His answer was: “Friendliness.”

He continued: “From that moment on, I decided to apply friendliness in every situation I encounter in both my professional and private life. The results where astonishing. Not only did I achieve much better results, but this had a great positive impact on my mood, and my health. Even better, I have found that people almost in any situation are willing to walk the extra mile to help me.”

I was amazed by his story. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend. Somehow, it all made sense. So I said to myself: “Let’s give ‘friendliness’ a try for one week. If it works, I will continue to use it.”

After one week, I was amazed by the results of being consistently friendly. Both colleagues and customers were much more willing to collaborate. Calls did not escalate, and my mood was improving as well. From that moment, I decided to use friendliness as a default professional approach and I have never regretted doing so.

As an author of the book “Happy Customers Faster Cash,” friendliness is one of the 33 suggestions we offer, so I’d like to quote from it:
“Once you choose to make friendliness your default attitude, in daily practice you will notice that friendliness:

  • is actually the best ‘weapon ‘ to win almost any argument
  • is by far the best attitude to keep and maintain good customer relationships
  • will help you to feel better about yourself, your work and doing so will keep you more in control in almost any situation
  • will contribute to a good working environment with your colleagues and being friendly isn’t hard to learn to do, although it should be a part of you or your character and come from within. Friendliness can’t be faked and if you do try to ‘fake it’ people will notice.

We can conclude that friendliness as a default attitude benefits you as a person, your team, your performance, your customers and your organization.”

As the saying goes, the best advice is for free. Usually that is not the case, but here I would definitely recommend all of you with “frustration/anger” issues, to try consistent friendliness just for one week. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Marcel is the co-author of “Happy Customers, Faster Cash” USA Edition, available at

Understanding your Customers, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. DennisHow many different types of customers do you have? The way I see it, the credit department has at least three customers:  (1) The Sales Department, (2) their Company’s Senior Management, and (3) The Customer.  Business gurus may differ in opinions and approaches to customer focus and customer orientation, but these truths about customers are timeless:

  • Customers have choices.
  • Customers have expectations.
  • Customers have influence.
  • When your customer has a request or a problem, they expect your response to be timely.
  • Customers expect to interact with knowledgeable and professional credit team members, and that the information they receive will be accurate and helpful.

Do you know what your Customers want?  Do you provide everything they need?  Can you provide better or faster service to your internal customers [meaning to Sales and Senior Management]?  If so, when will you start doing so?  And is there any reason you cannot start today?

As always, I welcome your feedback as well as your questions, comments and constructive criticism.

Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (, 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.