We have talked about what to say on a collection call before, but these calls often do not go as planned. It is important to come in prepared and know what you want to say, but you can never predict what your customer will say. Below are 5 guidelines all of our collectors follow whenever they engage with a customer.
1. Always Listen
No matter how much you have to say, at some point, your customer will talk. It is important that when they are talking you are actively listening. They may just be making an excuse but they may actually have vendors paying them late, a temporary slow down in business, a large capital expense that had to be paid for, or a host of other legitimate reasons for late payment. Regardless of the situation, by listening to them you show you want to work WITH them, not AGAINST them and in the long run, this will make collecting far easier.
2. Remain Calm
Raising your voice, insulting them, or getting frustrated will only hurt your chances of collecting. Not only this, but it can also ruin your business relationship going forward. Remember, this is potentially someone who you want to continue to buy your product.
3. Ask Questions
The best way to show someone you want to work with them and help them out is by asking questions. They may not give you the answers you were looking for but at least it shows that you care enough to try to understand their situation and come to a solution that will work for both of you.
4. Remain Firm and In Charge
At the end of the day, you are the one in the position of power and this should always be evident in the conversation. If your customer has one bad debt, they most likely have multiple bad debts. This means they are trying to figure out who they have to pay now and who they can keep stringing along. You should appear ready to work out a solution but also that you expect to be paid now.
5. Get a Commitment
Finally, you should always try to get some form of a commitment by the end of the call. Ideally, they agree to pay the amount in full the second they get off the phone. Unfortunately, not all calls will end like that. The important thing is to get them to commit to something. It can be as small as calling you back tomorrow with a payment plan, as long as they are moving towards payment on the account.
Making that dreaded call is never fun, but it is an important part of doing business and when done correctly can be very beneficial to the collection process.