When many people hear about collectors they immediately have a view of a person telephoning repeatedly and demanding payment in a very forceful manner. Some imagine collectors as rough with the use of language, unwilling to listen, unsympathetic, desensitized and possessing poor customer care skills among other views. Some think collectors just want payment and care less about people’s stories and feelings. Many people can never imagine taking a job as a collector let alone do it for years. Some wonder how collectors go home and sleep at night without carrying a burden of stress.
It is true that being a bill collector is not a job for everyone. Being a collector is like many other jobs out there and has plenty to offer to the open minded person. In fact here are some very useful skills that you will acquire as a collector.
- Communication Skills: Because most of your time is spent communicating with people over the phone, in person or in writing, you will become very skilled over time in these areas. I remember when I first got into collections, I was very unskilled on the phone. Making call after call was exhausting and yes I would go home stressed out, had some sleepless nights and always wished I could get a different job. This did not last very long. I soon excelled on the job and began to enjoy what I was doing.
- Negotiation skills: You will learn how to negotiate and get results every time, i.e. get people to pay up and thank you for helping them do so. Even if you don’t get payment right away, the people you are contacting will make promises that they will most likely keep.
- Computer skills: You will become proficient at using the computer because you will probably be using it daily. Like many machines, you get better with repetition over time. You get good at what you repeatedly do. Because computers are here to stay, this is a good skill to have and be good at. It is a transferrable skill, meaning that if get another job you will be able to use the skill.
- Writing skills: Your writing skills will improve. You will be writing to customers via email or regular mail. If you are not writing letters and emails then you will most likely be making notes of your conversations with customers. Either way, this is another good skill to have and just like the other skills mentioned earlier, repetition will improve your skills.
- Credit knowledge: Many of us live in a society where borrowing is normal. Borrowing comes in many forms and names. Call it a mortgage, line of credit, overdraft, term loan or visa, all of these and many more mean that you will repay what you have borrowed, over a period of time at a certain interest rate. Since borrowing is a major part of our economic activity, you will acquire plenty of knowledge on this important subject.
As long as people borrow money, there will be a need for a bill collector. Consider this field of work.
Property tax is one of the many types of tax that many people must pay. This is a tax you pay for owning real property such as a house or land. In Ontario Canada, this tax is a large source of revenue for municipalities.
How is property tax calculated?
In Ontario, property tax is based on the assessed value of a property. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation(MPAC) is the entity that is responsible for assessing all properties in the Province. The assessed property values are sent to municipalities annually. Municipalities set the tax rates for the different classes of properties. In general, tax bills are calculated by multiplying the tax rates by the assessed values. Many municipalities issue two tax bills each calendar year, each bill covering six months of the year.
The revenue collected from property tax is used by municipalities to provide various services. Budgets are transparent and explain how the money that is collected is used. If you would like to learn more about how the money is spent, many municipalities send this information to residents and also publish it online.
What happens if you don’t pay the property Tax?
If you don’t pay your property tax, the interest/penalties accumulates very quickly due to the rate that is charged. The interest rates can exceed some commercial lending rates. You might even find it cheaper to borrow at a lower interest rate to pay your tax arrears. Unfortunately tax and interest are hardly forgiven. Some municipalities have programs that provide tax relief to property owners, but most tax breaks don’t add up to much and are geared towards senior citizens or special circumstances such as extreme illness.
If you do not pay your tax, there is legislation that allows municipalities to recover unpaid taxes by selling your property. This process is slow and you will receive several notices prior to the sale. If you ignore all these notices, your home will be sold to pay the tax arrears and it does not have to be sold at market price. During this process, mortgagees can also move in to pay off the outstanding taxes to protect their interest and can turn around and sell your home by foreclosure.
What you can do to avoid losing your home?
- Respond to any notices that you receive in a timely manner.
- Ask for options that are available to help you pay the outstanding taxes.
- Review your finances, explain your financial difficulties and set up a payment arrangement.
- If you have many questions that can’t be resolved by phone or mail, arrange a face to face meeting with a tax official.
- If your financial circumstances improve, consider paying taxes before other bills.
Customer service is the care, attention and advice provided before, during and after purchase or use of a product or service. This interaction is very important and can make or break an organization.
Some basics of good customer service are:
- Patience – Be patient when a customer calls or visits your business.
When I telephone or visit a company and ask a question and I am being rushed, I get the impression that the company is not giving me much attention. It is said that one customer at a time makes the difference between staying in or out of business. Therefore be patient.
- Listen Attentively – Listen to what customers say with little interruption.
When you acknowledge customers it shows that you are actively listening and not ignoring. Make some notes if possible so that you can provide accurate responses.
- Respond Cautiously – Respond clearly and answer questions accurately.
When responding to customers, make sure you speak clearly, cautiously and specifically address their issues. Smile in order to lighten up the interaction. Smiles are free and contagious and yes they make a difference. You can smile when on a phone call too. Aim at providing responses that satisfy customers and whenever possible without transferring or referring to another person.
- Take Ownership – Identify yourself to customers and commit to helping.
Customers want to know that you are willing and able to help with their inquiries or concerns. If they sense unwillingness and/or lack of knowledge, they will probably ask to speak to someone else.
- Negotiate Well – Know how to negotiate at different levels for win- win solutions.
In case of disputes,negotiate and only provide what is fair without heavily affecting your organization.
- Stay Calm Under Pressure – Don’t be abrupt and overbearing.
Some customer issues can raise your pulse and tempt you to shout back. Remember that most irate customers don’t direct their rant at you personally, so respond calmly and don’t get hooked! Over time you will learn to manage your nerves.
- Keep An Open Mind – Don’t rush to conclusions. There could be something you have not heard about before even though you might have plenty of experience.
- End On A Positive – End on a positive note so that customers are retained and remain happy.
Companies and organizations are formed every day. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why some succeed and other don’t is customer service. So remember it pays to always provide good customer service.