Hear What Isn't Being Said
Ask any collection professional for a list of their top five collection secrets and without a doubt effective listening skills will always be at the top of the list.
When you contact a past-due customer and state the reason for your call or ask a question wait for the answer. Regardless of the pause allow them to break the silence. When the customer begins to answer your question, stay silent and listen.
Do not multitask; focus and listen. Effective listening requires focus; not just getting the general idea of what the customer is saying but fully understanding what is being said. This places you in the best possible position to respond quickly, on point, and aides in maintaining control of the conversation.
The listening process is a tool to build trust, develop rapport, and convey a message of openness. Through effective listening, you can identify a past-due customer's intent and underlying motivation, values, attitudes and desires – all of which are critical components of the negotiating process.
The wisest know that being a great communicator means listening to not only what the customer is saying, but also to what he or she is not saying.
From the father of Modern Management Peter Drucker(1909-2005):
"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."