A communication barrier is one of the biggest challenges when trying to collect money from a small business or person. Failure to plan proactively is one of the biggest causes of the problem. If you work with small businesses, you may not always be paid up front as some customers prefer to purchase on credit. However, when they fail to pay on time, you must come up with a reliable way of collecting despite the communication barrier. The following methods will make the process much easier and more efficient!

•       Speak Slower, Not Louder: When trying to collect debt from a business or person who does not understand the language you speak, you must be patient and speak slowly. Speaking loudly won’t necessarily deliver your message; if you raise your voice, it may seem to the debtor that you are annoyed, or angry. Slow down your speech to ensure that every word you say is clear and understandable. Be careful not to over-articulate. Your goal should be to pass the message and not to teach them how to speak your language.

•       Take Advantage of Omni-channel Communication: Omni-channel communication may help you collect your debt even when there are communication barriers. Customers can now choose from a variety of channels such as email, SMS, and chat.

If your company offers multi-lingual support, it can be easy to communicate with debtors through various channels. If certain customers have difficulty speaking to you on the phone, they can navigate the language barrier by using other support alternatives.

Desk Phone Letters Smartphone Email Office

•       Stay Patient: Attempting to communicate with someone who does not understand you can be frustrating. Try to remain patient and do not harass the debtor. Harassing does not yield any positive results. Persistence is important but you must know where to draw the line. If there is a communication barrier, sending a message that the debtor does not every hour will not change anything.

Clock symbolizing patience

•       Learn their Native Language: You may need to learn the basics of the language that the debtor speaks. This shows effort on your part which will lead to increased respect and may even motivate them to pay up. You do not need to learn everything but basic words including greetings, compliments, and other relevant words that may be important. Some words and phrases to translate can include:  “Debt” “Deadline to pay” “You owe ___”, etc. 

Best Practices

Language barriers can be awkward but they do not need to get in the way of your business. There are lots of ways to pass messages across to a debtor. By speaking clearly, using omni-channel communications, staying patient and learning the basics of the language they speak, success in collecting through a communication barrier will be much more likely!

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