5 Do’s and Don’ts of Collecting on the Phone

24 Aug

Despite your best attempts to minimize bad debt, it is inevitable that some customers will not pay. It is an unfortunate side effect of doing business. Understanding collections and having a procedure in place can help recover part of all of the money owed. One important step in this process involves picking up the phone and calling your customer. It can be a difficult phone call to make, but if done well can seriously aid in the collection process. Here are 5 Do’s and Don’ts when collecting on the phone.

What You Should Do

  1. Do maintain control of the conversation and maintain a calm and professional tone the whole time.
  2. Do identify yourself and why you are calling. Do not be rude about it, but there is no need to beat around the bush.
  3. Do document all details of the call for both later reference or in the case of a dispute as to what was said.
  4. Do set up a specific course of action going forward or at the very minimum set up a time and date for future discussion
  5. Do expect to get paid in full. If the customer feels like they are getting a deal by only paying a portion of the debt owed, they are more likely to agree to pay more.

What You Should Not Do

  1. Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum while you are on the phone. It is not only unprofessional but it can cause confusion and lead to you repeating yourself.
  2. Don’t raise your voice, insult the customer, or act obscene in any other way. Remember, you are more likely to get paid if your customer feels you are on their team not against them.
  3. Don’t interrupt the customer. It is important to give them time to get their story out and let them feel like you understand and are going to try to work with them.
  4. Don’t let the customer dictate the payment. Many customers will try to quickly offer to pay a small amount of the money owed in the hopes of appeasing you. While this may be a good deal, you should be suspicious of such a quick offer
  5. Don’t give up if your customer does not agree to reasonable terms off the back. Collections can take a while and it is important to stay persistent and patient.  

No one likes collections and even fewer like to get on the phones and try to get a customer to pay their debt, but improving your collection skills can result in a tangible benefit to your bottom line. What are some Do’s and Don’ts you have for collection calls?

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