Offering the Payment Method Too Soon

Here’s a typical scenario we hear a lot when listening to calls: A customer calls in, the Collector advises them of the total amount due and asks if they can pay today. The customer agrees to a payment. The Collector then asks, “How are you going to make that payment?” As the Supervisor listens to the call with the Collector, they say, “good job” and move to the next call…

The bigger questions here are “What about the remaining balance? Where was the negotiation?” We need not forget, in this instance, the Collector did not negotiate. Negotiation is defined as a method by which people settle differences. In our case, the customer owes a balance that includes past due payments and fees.

If the customer tells us they can make one payment and we did nothing to “settle the difference” we did not do our job as a Collector. The customer can call in and set up one payment through an automated system. As a Collector it is our job to negotiate by understanding what the customer is able to do and then motivate the customer to come to a compromise that benefits both parties. We can do this by asking the FOT (Facts on the Table) and Diagnostic Questions, thereby determining the customer type, and then proceeding to ask the proper questions to either raise the initial offer (Willing Customer), have the customer pay sooner (Vague), or find the money through asking about regular and other sources of income (Unwilling). If we ask for the method of payment after the first commitment, the customer perceives us as willing to accept that offer and any talk of the remaining balance becomes rushed or an afterthought. Get the customer’s full plan for the balance first, then “negotiate” to ensure we are meeting our objectives.