Making Effective Collection Calls

Part of the Credit & Collections Kit For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Most people hate making collection calls almost as much as the person on the other end of the line hates getting them, but calls to collect your debt are an important part of getting money from slow-paying customers.

For best results when making collection calls:

  • Review your customer’s credit file. Before you get on the phone, refresh your memory about the customer, the customer’s purchase and credit history, and anything else that may help you out during your call.

  • Mentally prepare. Anticipate what the debtor may say during your call and what responses you can give. Have a sense, in advance, of what you hope to achieve with the call (for example, immediate payment, half-payment now, half in 30 days, and so on).

  • Have records at your fingertips. Be prepared to use an appropriate document from your file to back up any of your claims about the customer’s account or to refute any of the customer’s claims or excuses for late payment.

  • Talk to the right person. Figure out who in the company can authorize payment on your account, and talk to that person.

  • Be a professional. Maintain a calm, confident demeanor, and listen carefully to what the debtor says. Try to identify and resolve complaints that are legitimate. Don’t let the debtor rattle you or make you lose your temper. Prepare and use a script to keep yourself on track.

  • Take notes. Your notes help you refresh your memory in future dealings with the debtor, and they help you be accurate when you write up faxes, e-mails, or repayment agreements.

  • Get it in writing. Quickly send the debtor a written confirmation of any points of agreement — if possible using fast methods of delivery such as fax or e-mail — and try to get the debtor to acknowledge the communication. If your debtor agrees to pay you, try to get the debtor to sign an agreement spelling out that arrangement.

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