14 Apr Isn’t Everyone Affected by Covid-19??
April 13, 2020
Everyone is definitely affected by Covid-19 but not everyone is financially impacted by Covid-19. Thus, with negotiation, it is always important not to prejudge someone’s ability to pay. I heard an interesting conversation the other day regarding student loans. One person was saying, “Call your student loan company and ask for the ‘Corona’ deferment.” Another person in response said, “I don’t want the deferment. I want to continue paying without any interruption.”
Now, while that may not be everyone. We cannot assume that no one is able to pay on his/her account. So, how should we address it?
It is okay to ask, after the opening of the account and before Facts on the Table, “Where you financially impacted by Covid-19?”
If “No”, then move to the Facts, with the use of Bridging transition.
If, “Yes”, Bridge and then ask for more information to better understand the impact.
You will still need to determine the depth and length of the impact. Were they furloughed? Was it someone in the household? Were they ill or caring for someone ill and missed work? When did this happen? The more you understand about the financial impact, the better solutions you can provide both now and for the future of their account.
With so much uncertainty, it is essential to get as much information about the customer’s situation, while being empathetic.
For every 10 people I know, one has been furloughed, the rest have transitioned to work from home or are considered “essential worker”, thus, don’t assume a financial impact.
Ask questions, be empathetic, and work towards a solution. Don’t offer up a program immediately. We can be prepared to offer a program but know the difference between a program and a portfolio wide adjustment.
Example, most student loan companies have deferred payments with zero interest until September 2020, giving students the option to still pay during this time. This was provided without any communication.
So, if you are paying for agents to call customers, think about how you want to handle your portfolio. Do you want to apply a 2-month deferment and then call those outside of that 2 months? Do you want to collect, if you can, from those who can pay but need encouragement? Think of your WIIFMs. Now is the time to find and emphasize the benefits of the customer paying you versus paying someone else. If Landlords are giving leeway as well as utility companies and student loan companies, where is their money going? Now is the time to differentiate between your Unwilling and Unable. Programs for those Unable, as appropriate and WIIFMs to persuade the Unwilling.