“We want a happy ending for defaulting payers.”
Since completing her studies Monika Horváthová has been working as a call centre specialist at EOS KSI in Slovakia, helping consumers to reduce their debts. Even though defaulting payers often might reject her help initially, they are usually very grateful to her for it in the end.
How do people react on the phone when they hear that you are a debt collection agent?
Many people still have a lot of prejudices against our industry. People often think that debt collection companies get rich at the expense of people in financial distress. But in fact my EOS colleagues all over the world and I have exactly the opposite in mind: We want to help payment defaulters to become debt-free. This is also embodied in our EOS purpose: ‘For a debt-free world’. It describes what motivates us in our day-to-day work. And sometimes we just have to clear up a few prejudices when we phone up consumers. That’s not always easy.
How do you manage it then?
Above all it is important to be empathetic towards the person at the other end of the line. In this situation it is often the small things that count, like the tone of voice we use when speaking to them. We show them that we understand their situation. After all, any one of us could end up having cash flow problems at some point and finding it difficult to pay our bills. On the other hand, this isn’t the time for pity. We need to be practical by looking for solutions to consumers’ problems. Our aim is for them to see us as partners.
How do you solve the problems of late payers?
Here’s an example: I remember one lady whose husband had left her. She had two children and could no longer service her debt. At first she did not respond to our attempts to make contact with her. One day I gave her a call. Her reaction was very hostile. At that point in time she simply believed that her situation was hopeless. But I listened to her and assured here that we were there to help her. Gradually she opened up to me. By the end of the conversation she had agreed to make a small part-payment. Two weeks later she called to tell me that she had transferred another sum. We then worked out a long-term payment plan. After six months the customer came into our office to pay her entire outstanding debt ahead of time. She was very happy that we had helped her to live free of debt again. Incidentally, we often experience this kind of gratitude.
If you had just one piece of advice to give to defaulting payers, what would it be?
Talk to us! Simply ignoring letters or phone calls is the wrong way to go. If we see that consumers are interested in settling their debts then we do our utmost to help them. Depending on the circumstances of the case we have ways of accommodating them, for example with affordable instalment payments or a deferment. Our objective is always to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties. That’s what my colleagues and I strive to do day after day. And ultimately this is also a way of protecting our clients’ good reputation.