We collect from all types of people undergoing financial distress and how they talk with us determines how we tackle them. Usually, customers are just ‘normal’ when under distress, but how to deal with ‘special’ people. Like people with over-inflated egos, VIPs, and even narcissists in financial distress?

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A client recently asked me to combine customer service training with my normal debt collections training. The organization was getting too many customer complaints and it didn’t want to lose customers and spread negative word-of-mouth. The big boss said something that hit me hard. She said, “Some of the collectors are too harsh. They make customers feel small.”

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In this age of Customer Experience, numerous companies say, ‘customers are the lifeblood of our business.’ They also may tell their investors, customers, and employees:

– “Customers are always right.”

– “Customers are the reason we’re here.”

– “No customer; no you.”

Those taglines should apply to most of our customers, but there is a tiny minority who are sheer dumb-asses. Let’s face it, there are some terrible customers out there. Many will negatively affect your company’s profits and employees.

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Refuse-to-Pays are some of the most difficult debtors to tackle. I much prefer angry customers because when people are angry, they usually care. If I can calm them down, listen to them, solve their issues; then I’m usually able to collect.

But ‘Refuse-to-Pays’ say things like:

  • “Go ahead, get in line, sue me.”
  • “Do what you have to do, I’m not paying.”
  • “I don’t care.”

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Customer as a Friend

My first job was to be a Customer Service agent at a cellular phone service company. I remember during my induction training, the CS trainer told us how important it was to treat customers friendly, nicely, and delightfully. And I didn’t disagree with all that. The 2-week training ended with a song about how great we treat our customers. I was sold.

Then I was assigned to the Bill Collections department.

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