Importance of Positive Reinforcement

As we communicate with consumers, we have to remember they come to each conversation with their own experiences shaping how they interact with us from the start. From the beginning, this shapes how they perceive the direction of our conservation related to their debt.
A key aspect of any interaction is how to reinforce the positive, so the interaction results in a positive experience for all involved or as some may say both sides. Both sides, however, can be a dangerous term as it already indicates conflict or a fight. Take for instance the collections industry, ultimately, we want both sides, or all involved, to have a successful resolution to the unpaid debt. It shouldn't be an "us versus them" mentality. Instead, we want to think collaboratively as we work with the consumer on the outstanding debt.
How does that happen then? Through positive reinforcement of what the consumer has done right. That aspect may be small or large, but it is important to determine what the consumer has done right in the situation. That becomes the focus of positive reinforcement, even if everything else seems to be the opposite. This may come from something you notice in their file or learn in conversation with them.
Let's look at an example. Let's take Sean who has outstanding debt. While he has had this large debt amount, he is making payments, which has allowed us to freeze the interest and keep it from accumulating. That is a positive aspect to reinforce with him. The same could apply to those who have made good faith payments, or maintained communication efforts as they seek financing or employment or information about the debt. It may take work, but that positive behavior is important to reinforce.
What if you focused on the negative instead? Sean would hear about all the debt he can't tackle. The person who doesn't make large payments would start to feel even worse about their small progress. That person who has stayed in contact but struggled to pay any bills might feel the need to shut down completely. We could also throw blame around or mistakes made by the consumer. Where is the collaborative progress on any of that? It doesn't exist!
When we focus on positive collaborative efforts, we - both sides - make progress. We encourage Sean so that he continues to tackle that debt as we praise him for not adding to it. We encourage that person that is making small payments, along with seeing if they can make little increases to them. We tell the consumer that they are doing the right thing by willingly being in continual communication. All of those work together to accomplish our goals and the goals of the consumer as we have a collaborative conversation.
We recognize that this collaborative effort makes the difference and sets us apart as a collection agency. We've done speaking presentations about eliminating conflict from the collection process, and if you would like a copy of our power point presentations, or would like to speak to one of our collection management team members, drop us a line.
All the best,
Kingston Data & Credit
Cambridge, Ontario
1-888-908-3151, Ext. 3003
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Originally posted on Receivable / Accounts