Successful Debt Collectors Need Both Left and Right Brain Skills

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July 19, 2017 by Harry Stoll

Customers can act as fuel for a business, providing the revenue necessary to support success and growth. When customers fail to make full or even partial payments on goods or services it can adversely impact cash flow and hinder progress. Some small businesses, of course, will respond to these unpaid invoices with in-house efforts.  While others, to maximize resources, turn over these unpaid accounts to a reputable licensed collection agency served by experienced debt collectors.

If you are a small business that wants to go it alone, I have some advice for you regarding your collectors. Of course, there is so much more to a collection agency than the collection staff, but today’s blog is going to give you some insight into what we look for in a collector.

As a business development representative at United Credit Service for 4 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand how our experienced, certified Professional Collection Specialists liquidate unpaid customer invoices. I sell collection services to creditors oftentimes from the collection floor. When out there, I’ll sit right next to some of the debt collectors at UCS. And while I may not hear all of their conversations, I have had the privilege of learning about the characteristics and skills all of our collectors have in common.  What I’ve come to understand is that debt collectors are a group of extraordinary people who possess a wide variety of both hard and soft skills, and the importance of each individual debt collector cannot be overstated. Not only is their work vital to  recovering bad debt, they are also the face, or should I say the voice of the company when speaking with consumers.  Here is a short list of some of the diverse left and right brain skills needed to be a successful collector.

Hard (left brain) Skills: Since debt collection is heavily regulated, debt collectors must possess in-depth knowledge of all federal and state laws that govern debt collection practices and must be able to implement these laws as well as all policies and procedures dictated by UCS and the clients we serve. For efficiency, they must have the ability to navigate and utilize the various collection software programs and payment portals we use, and document outcomes (live) while conversing with and obtaining payments from consumers.

But to be truly successful in the sensitive art of debt collection, collectors must also possess exceptional emotional intelligence, also known as soft (right brain) skills, and have the ability to achieve the important balance between results and relationships. They must be great conversationalists and diplomats because they not only represent UCS, but also the clients we are serving. For each call to run smoothly and ultimately end in payment we’ve learned that if our collectors are good communicators (using those right brain, soft skills) listen intently to each debtor, are friendly, and exhibit a positive attitude they will build a rapport and earn the debtor’s trust which will allow them (the debtor) to open up and discuss the sensitive financial issues they might be facing. A good collector needs to be able to evaluate whether it’s an ability to pay issue or a willingness to pay issue; then they will be in a better position to overcome objections and offer repayment solutions that are acceptable to both the client and debtor.

Good debt collectors have ‘short memories’ and a personality that allows them to rebound quickly after a brief setback. When dealing with financial issues, emotions can sometimes run high and tough conversations are almost inevitable in our business.  In order to provide all consumers with the highest quality customer service possible, our collectors are taught how to stay professional and quickly turn these calls around with compassion and tact.

We’ve been using this positive, kind approach to debt collection for over 65 years and it has been proven to be successful by our higher than industry average collection rates.

At UCS, well-qualified debt collectors are just one of the essential cogs needed to keep a revenue cycle moving smoothly—but certainly an important one. Hopefully these insights will help you understand what type of skills your own employees need to possess to be successful collectors.  If you want to go it alone, I wish you nothing but success. But if you decide you need some help, we at UCS and other agencies like us, are here, ready and able to help.

United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at, call 877-723-2902, or check out our YouTube video.


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