Guest Post by Mary Shores
Think of a time when you had to call consumer service. How did you feel before you made the call? What about during the call, and after you hung up? Many would say we experience frustration, anger, disappointment, or confusion. Now it’s time for the big question: how do your consumers feel after talking to your company? Perhaps it’s the same feelings just mentioned? It’s time for a better way.
If you want to make the collection or legal process less painful, make it less of a process and more of a connection. There is the stereotype of the aggressive and shaming bully of a debt collector or attorney for a reason. Mary Shores changed the way we approach the consumer at our company and it has made a big impact on our clients, our consumers, and ultimately our bottom line. At Midstate Collection Solutions, we focus on making people feel good about paying their debt because we know that having a debt is a burden on both the consumer and the client; we want to be the solution. Changing the industry perception has been a vision of Mary’s for years—she is working diligently to prove that collection agencies and attorneys are not the bad guys that people make them out to be, and her innovative approach to communicating is doing just that. Within the first year of implementing this new communications strategy, our revenues increased over 33%, allowing us to collect more money from consumers while reducing lawsuits and work towards our goal of improving the industry perception!
The way we communicate with others has a significant impact on the end-result of the interaction. For example, studies have shown throughout the years that the probability of a physician being sued by a patient can be determined within the first few minutes of their interaction solely based on how they communicate with their patient. Now apply this same principle to your company. Your consumers are more likely to file a lawsuit against your company based on your communications with them and how they feel they are being treated.
What if you, too, can radically decrease the probability of lawsuits and increase your success in collections within your organization just by simply changing the way you communicate with your clients and consumers? Words That Work can do just that.
What is “Words That Work”?
Mary’s innovative three-step communications philosophy is based on psychology, neuroscience, and biochemistry. This radical system is effective because it empowers staff, creates consistency, and increases overall satisfaction.
Words That Work is comprised of 3 rules:
- Stop Saying Negative Words
- Start Using Words That Work
- Always Say What You Can Do
Stop Saying Negative Words
We have a Do Not Say List that all employees must follow at our company. The top six words on this infamous list are: no, not, can’t, won’t, however, and unfortunately. All of these words plant giant seeds of negativity, subconsciously reinforcing a negative outcome in the situation. Another issue that falls under negative words is passive phrasing, such as “Is there any way you can pay this today?” Eliminate negative words first, and you’re well on your way towards your goals of decreasing lawsuits and increasing collections.
Start Using Words That Work
Based on psychology, neuroscience, and biochemistry, Words That Work is made of words and phrases that trigger positive or relaxing emotions taking your staff and consumers out of fight-or-flight and putting them in rest-and-digest. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for aggression, anxiety, negative perceptions, increased attention to negative stimuli, and recall of negative experiences. When activated with Words That Work, the parasympathetic nervous system balances out that reaction by promoting growth and regeneration, building loyalty and rapport, feeling relaxing emotions, and increasing the likelihood of being open and receptive to communications.
Always Say What You Can Do
Telling the consumer what your next step is in the process sets proper expectations, builds confidence and rapport, and informs the consumer of the solution all while simply stating what the next actions are going to be. Sometimes you don’t always know what you can do in the moment, or you may need to look into the situation further before coming up with a solution. When you need more time to look into the consumer’s account or come up with a solution, be honest, and set a realistic expectation of when you will get back to them.
3 Steps to Using Words That Work
Now that you know the 3 rules of Words That Work, here’s how you apply them in your communications.
1. Validate—When you validate the consumer, it lets them know you heard and understand them. You build rapport and trust. It’s important to note that validation does not necessarily mean you agree with what it is the consumer is saying; you’re just consciously acknowledging what they’re telling you so they understand you’re actively listening to their concerns and situation./p>>
“I appreciate you sharing that with me.”
2. Plant Seeds of Happiness—By using powerful words, you assure the consumer that you are doing everything in your power to resolve their concerns.
“I can definitely resolve this problem for you.”
3. Use an Action Statement—This empowers you to remain in control of the conversation, sets proper expectations, and instills confidence in the consumer that you are going to help them.
“What I can do for you is…”
Implementing Words That Work as simple as rephrasing what most employees already say. For example, if someone is trying to schedule an appointment and there’s no availability right away, try rephrasing like this.
Stop Saying: I’m sorry—unfortunately, I don’t have an opening until next week.
Start Saying: I have great news! An appointment just became available! I can schedule you for Monday at 10 am.
Tying It All Together
Take a bit of time each day to focus on becoming aware of what you say to reduce your chances of facing litigation, improve your success in collections, and build a more positive reputation for your company and for the clients you represent. Slowly weed out negative words, replace them with Words That Work, and tell people what you can do for them. Always validate either the positive or the negative statements you’re being told. Your next step is to plant a seed of happiness and end with an action statement to present your solution to significantly improve your consumer service outcome. If you tell someone what you can do for them, they’re less likely to be upset when they can’t have things their way.
Here at Midstate Collections, we are always striving to educate, empower, and entertain you to take inspired action. It is no secret that communication is a powerful tool. Creating and delivering consistent information to consumers empowers your staff to know there is always a solution. Having access to all these resources helps your staff to feel confident and provide quality results every time. Applying Words That Work in your work will be more challenging than you may expect. You are breaking old habits and configuring new neural pathways in your brain. If you have any questions or would like any guidance at all on how to use Words That Work, Maghan Moslander, the Business Development Coordinator at Midstate Collection Solutions, would be thrilled to hear from you.
We have a free workbook resource based on this article if you are ready to start implementing Words That Work in your organization and want to complete exercises to help take you to the next level. Request your free workbook for this training by emailing Maghan Moslander at [email protected].