Most Finns agreed on the correct response to a collection letter

 

“We have the same attitude to collection letters as most recipients.”

Tanja - service advisor

 


More than half of all Finns have received a payment reminder or debt collection letter at least once in their lives. Usually, people receive them because they have forgotten to pay an invoice, have made an error with the payment or are experiencing some temporary financial difficulties. The good news is that the majority of those who do receive a letter are able to clear their outstanding balance in just a matter of months. In fact, Finnish people are known for their financial rectitude and are clearly keen to pay off their bills and debts. The same attitude also applies to letters from debt collection agencies.

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A common factor shared by all


Tanja has worked at OK Perintä for just under a year and, in that time, she has noticed something all her debtor customers have in common. Without fail, the majority of customers are genuinely committed to clearing their debts.
 
“You could say that the staff have exactly the same attitude to collection letters as most recipients. The recipients want to clear their outstanding balance, and we want to do everything we can to help them make that happen,” Tanja explains.
 
Sometimes, people are unable to clear the full balance in one go and the staff understand that. Finding the right solution calls for first rate problem solving skills and a thorough understanding of the customer’s financial and other circumstances.
 
“Each day is different and you’re always thinking about and looking into how you can best help people clear their outstanding debts. For me, what I enjoy most about my work is doing just that. And as incredible as it might sound, our debtor customers do get in touch with us from time to time to say thanks and give positive feedback.”

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People upset for the same reason


Although debtor customers are usually keen to resolve the situation, their first reaction on receiving a debt collection letter is often anything but rational. Their anger is then often directed at the customer service staff at the debt collection agency. Often, people feel angry because they feel that the debt collection team does not fully understand the situation.
 
“Sometimes, we start things off by explaining that there is no reason to be angry with us or our clients. We absolutely understand that people forget things and make mistakes and the reason we have sent the letter is to find a solution. We are not going to be doing anything drastic, like legal action, straightaway. As customer service advisors, we have an important role to play in making sure our debtor customers understand how the debt collection process works. We all want to do all we can to avoid a payment default entry,” Tanja points out.

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A successful outcome means everyone is happy


In future, debt collection services are likely to play an increasingly important role in society as payment methods change and new loan and credit products are made available.

“We might well see an increase in the number of debtor customers in future if people are offered new payment methods and financial products to choose from. For me, what matters is that the industry continues to pay more attention to how it treats customers. One example is of a small business owner with significant business debts who was diagnosed with a serious illness. It took a lot of work and effort to make sure they did not end up with a payment default entry. We work as a team here, and almost every day I see one of my colleagues taking endless photocopies and making phone calls and sending e-mails to help a customer avoid enforcement and a payment default entry. Listening to our customers and identifying the solutions that work in their particular situation can be hard work sometimes but I find it really rewarding,” Tanja says.