Sunday, September 16, 2012

Be An Informed Consumer

Life is full of curve balls.

No, this is not a baseball metaphor for once, just a statement of truth.  All good intentions, at times have a way of not working out the way we plan for them to.  Does that mean we are making bad choices, or that we lack the experience to make the most informed choice?

I have been in the call center industry 22 years.  During that time, I and my teams have spoken with thousands of people who have run into to tough times.  When a person gets into this situation, are they asking the right questions of the company they are speaking with?  Even a better question, is the company asking the consumer the right questions for the best solution for the consumer?

At the end of the day, all of us run into bad situations.  Situations that we didn't plan on.  Situations that may or may not be of our own making.  When consumers turn to creditors or service providers for assistance, it is imperative that communication be a two way street.  Consumers must be open and honest about their situation, and creditors/servicers must be fair and honest with the consumer.  Often times, this two way communication does not occur, and as a result, the consumer is the one left frustrated and in a deeper situation than they were before.

I have spent much of my career in the debt collection arena, and what I have found is that regardless of the specific industry, auto finance, medical, mortgage, student loans, credit cards, there are always alternatives to defaulting.  The importance of consumers communicating with their creditors, will almost always result in arrangements being made.  As a consumer, remember the following.

  • Don't dodge creditor calls. 
  • Be specific about your situation.
  • Let the creditor know what you can do, versus what you can not do.
  • Understand any payment postponement options that are discussed and what you can do to mitigate standard monthly payment increases.
  • Be open to a two way conversation, and if the representative is not able to assist you, it is OK to ask for a supervisor or manager.
  • Don't expect that the creditor is going to do everything you ask.  Most industries are heavily regulated and must be consistent in the application of the rules.
  • Don't become upset at the messenger.  Often times the person representing the creditor is staying consistent with their policies.
  • At the end of the day, creditors and service providers WANT to assist their customers.
In my career, I have seen many situations where good people are going through a rough period.  As a creditor, I knew that if I was able to customer satisfaction one interaction at a time, I was creating a fan of the organization for life.

Creditors can not assist consumers who don't want to help themselves.  Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.  It is the best way to make improve a seemingly helpless situation.

Have a great week!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, Mark. It's great to be reminded that the "messenger" (the person on the other end of the phoneline) often can't do what we are asking. I had the same thing happen last week with Amex. I felt I had been mislead and they apologized for that, but unfortunately couldn't help me. I was angry, but not at the person on the phone.