06 Jun 2023
by Jules Eames FCICM (Grad); PGCE

Why Empathy and Communication Are Key to Effective Collections

With all the advantages modern collections technologies bring, it might be easy to assume we can sit back and watch the cash roll in because all routine tasks have been automated. But could we overlook something by taking the human touch out of the process?

Despite the shift from excel sheets to concise credit management, with the rapid advancement of technology in AI and Automation for Credit Management, it is still essential to retain empathy and a human connection in our collections process.

The Benefits of Empathy in Collections

Empathy is seeing or understanding a situation from another’s perspective. To put it simply, it’s being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. In collections, this is important because people respond better when they feel they’ve been heard and understood. You’re more likely to get a positive result through building trust and rapport by displaying empathy than you are from an automatic reminder email. Understanding your customer’s situation also makes it easier to see how you can improve their experience, which leads to greater satisfaction. 

Effective Communication in Collections

Enabling your customers to communicate with the business through various channels is a surefire way to increase engagement and improve satisfaction. When interfacing with the collections team is an essential touch point in the customer experience. This can often be the last time the customer will have contact, so getting it right here can help secure future business. CICM offers a variety of training in best-practice communication and negotiation skills, so have a look to see if this could benefit your business.  

To realise the benefits, a business could consider the following:

  • Mapping out the customer collections journey to identify any gaps, weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Arranging training for collections staff in effective communication and negotiation skills
  • Providing customers with multiple channels to communicate with your business, such as phone, email, and live chat
  • Assess the quality of the interactions – is the customer given a chance to be heard? Do we work collaboratively to solve issues in the best interests of both parties?
  • Offering flexible payment plans and options to customers who are struggling to pay
  • Making sure that all communications are clear, concise, and respectful
  • Regularly reviewing and updating the collections strategy to ensure it is effective and compliant with legal requirements and ethical considerations.

Adopting a more empathetic and customer-focused mindset enhances how we communicate within the collections environment. We can seek better to understand the customer’s perspective through open dialogue, transforming our approach from one based on automated, impersonal and adversarial communications to something that’s far more progressive. This will lead to better customer relationships through increased trust and confidence. And it will create better collections outcomes by working with the customer to agree on mutually beneficial solutions.

If you or your team could use some best-practice training on effective communication or negotiation skills, remember to check out the variety of virtual and in-person training we offer at CICM. Contact us to create a bespoke training class which gives you the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed in your collections work.