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home | Tip of the Week | Collections: Focus on the PICTURE!

Collections: Focus on the PICTURE!

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Collectors need to sound professional on the phone. One way to get them to do so is to focus on the word "PICTURE."

P = Pitch. Collectors should use a lower rather than a higher pitched voice because a lower voice is more soothing. When a person's pitch rises, it indicates a loss of control. Collectors want to sound like airplane pilots, anchor people, deejays. If you notice, they all have soothing, low-pitched voices--whether they are male or female.

I = Inflection. Don't speak in a monotone. Express your ideas and the mood with the inflection in your voice.

C = Courtesy. You definitely need to be courteous to the person you're calling. Remember, you must treat each delinquent customer as a valued customer. Your voice will convey the way you feel. Don't get annoyed at customers who are a little delinquent. Be courteous and let them know you appreciate their business.

Take this opportunity to encourage them to continue to do business with your company and possibly put more money up front with the next order. You don't want any customer to say, 'I don't ever want to do business with them again. I owed them some money, and they came on like gangbusters.'

T = Tone of voice. Remember the adage, "It's not what you say, but how you say it." It's very difficult to mask your feelings and thoughts. If collectors go into calls thinking all customers are deadbeats, their voices will reflect that attitude. Watch your tone--don't come across as condescending or nasty.

U = Understandable. No coffee, hard candy, gum or cigarettes during calls. Collectors should be easy to understand.

R = Rate of speech. Customers like to do business with people who are exactly like them. Rate of speech becomes a very important issue. When you talk to someone who speaks faster than you do, you tend to think of negative things--this person isn't trustworthy, he or she is double-talking me. It's the same in a collection call. If collectors are speaking rapidly, customers will be less likely to trust what is being said.

On the other hand, if you ask people what they think of those who talk much slower than they do, they tell you it's like pulling teeth. It's uncomfortable waiting for the sentence to end and the person to get to the point. People tend to think of someone who talks slower as being not very bright, when in reality the contrary is usually true.

So, if a collector is speaking slowly to a customer with a faster pace, the customer will probably think 'Man, these guys are easy to beat--they're not very bright.'

You must mirror or reflect the customer's rate of speech. Match the person's pace--give the impression that you are just like your customer.

E = Enunciation. Many letters in the English language are similar - T and D, P and B, E and P, can come out sounding alike. Over the telephone, they become even more difficult to distinguish. So enunciate very clearly, and use words when you're spelling the person's name or address--like P as in Peter, A as in Albert. This way you eliminate any problems before they occur. The worst thing you can do is start misspelling customers' names or addresses in any of your correspondence.

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·  Training Collectors to Take a Customer-Service Approach
·  Hiring the (Near) Perfect Collector
·  Collection Training: Developing Self-Management Work Teams
·  Prime-Time Collecting
·  Developing a Negotiating "Attitude"
·  Telephone Collections: 10 Do's and Don'ts

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