Dealing with an Irate Debtor

August 20, 2014

These are tough times for consumers across the United States. The economy is recovering, but still doesn’t compare to its health a decade ago. Job recovery is also strong, but there are many consumers still struggling to make ends meet, let alone pay off an old credit card bill.

Pressure is mounting on the working American to support themselves, their family and maintain their credit score. And when a debt collector is pursuing them for an old debt, given the probable reason they are in their current financial situation in the first place, it is not uncommon for the debtor to be irate with the debt collector. Even in a prosperous economy, a debt collector is the last person consumers want to hear from.  There are, however, methods to diffuse and take control of the situation when dealing with an irate debtor.

Patience is a Virtue

Being patient with the debtor is a very effective starting point. Letting them state their case and listening to their point of view- or at least giving that impression- helps the debtor and their opinion feel valued. If you try to talk over the consumer, however, they became irritated and uncooperative. If you are impatient with the debtor and their story, cutting them off and are over ambitious, they may even hang up the phone on you.

Respect the Consumer

Such tactics as addressing the debtor by name, talking with them (not at them) and just showing you are listening to them all indicate to the person on the other end of the phone call you are showing them respect. No one wants to do business with someone who is condescending them and disrespectful of their situation. Remember you are dealing with a person who may have fallen on hard times because of divorce, has become widowed or has been laid off.

The Customer… err… Debtor is Always Right

You may not agree with what the debtor is saying, but remember you are trying to get on the good side of an angry person. “The interest rate was too high for me to keep up with!” “I can’t believe all the hidden fees that company threw on my existing balance!” “The creditor was a stupid jerk!” Your answer to all these retorts should start with “I understand…” Keep your agreement short, sweet, friendly and, most importantly, engaging.

Ever hear the old adage, “treat others how you want to be treated”? Truer words were never spoken in the world of collections. And you have been met with road blocks when it comes time to landing a debt collection, you may want to evaluate the way you and your employees talk to people. Employing your conversation skills and treating your debtor with dignity can make all the difference in the world.