10 Tips to Successful Debt Collecting
Start the new year off right by enhancing your current collection efforts with these 10 quick collection tips:
PREPARE: Review your customer file before making the call including the history, credit record, and promises (kept and broken) and ensure this information is available to reference when you are on the phone.
ATTITUDE: Assume a straight forward, professional business-like attitude. Never let non-payment become personal. You have a contract, you delivered the goods or provided the service, money is owed, and you have the right to expect payment in return. Never yell or swear. Maintain emotional balance.
CONTACT: Ensure you talk to the right person. Don’t let the customer brush you off with “You’ll have to talk to the bookkeeper.” Identify who signs the cheques. If you can’t get through after several calls, advise the receptionist that it appears your calls are being screened. Indicate the purpose of your call and do not be afraid of giving deadlines.
CONTROL: Control the conversation. Keep it focused on the debt and repayment terms. Avoid being sidetracked with personal history, excuses, etc. Remember, the purpose of your call is to collect money, or gain a commitment for payment, not to become buddies with the customer or win an argument.
FLEXIBLE: Be ready to adjust and adapt to meet the circumstances. Be prepared to accept reasonable payment terms and a maintain a willingness to work through to customers particular circumstances.
NOTES: Maintain detailed notes of each customer contact. Probe for relevant information. Notes from previous contacts are invaluable on subsequent contacts. Good notes and gaining relevant information will also assist in making more effective credit decisions in the future with the customer.
PRODUCTIVE: Keep contacts brief and to the point. A collection call is a business call not a social one. View your efforts on a ratio of time to results achieved. Long conversations are a symptom of the customer controlling the call, stalling, or tapping into the buddy syndrome.
PRECISE: Never leave a contact open ended, such as “We’ll talk next week”, or “I’ll send a cheque next month”, or “I’ll send what I can”. Every contact should crystallize a commitment for payment by a specific time and for a specific amount. Don’t be wishy-washy!
TIME: The longer an account is held, the less likely it is that it will be paid. If payment or payout is not realized within 90 days escalate the matter by referring the file to a 3rd party collection agent or commence legal action.
PLACEMENT: Ensure that you deal with a third party agent that is an ethical professional that is fully bonded to guarantee your remittance.
From British author Agatha Christie (1890-1976)
“Good advice is always certain to be ignored,
but that’s no reason not to give it.”
…Some food for thought.