Calling up a defaulting customer for the amount they are due to pay is never a task you look forward to. As disliked as it may be, collection calls are an integral part of your work when there are delayed payments to be collected. Confidence is key in these communications as you will need to stay in control of the conversation. While there is no foolproof way to make successful collection calls, we do have a few essential tips that could help you achieve better results.
* Be prepared
Before you make the call, ensure that you have all the details of the debt you are calling about. Having a file with all the information on the account will help you speak confidently. This also signifies a level of professionalism and gives you control over the conversation. Make copies of all the relevant invoices, terms and contracts so as to refer if required. Remember to take careful notes throughout the call, in case a future dispute arises.
* Be pleasant but confident
The tone you adopt in a conversation can have an impact on the other person’s response. Speaking in a pleasant and positive tone reflects confidence and professionalism while letting you communicate in a polite manner. The pitch, inflection and speed at which you talk can also have an impact on the listener. Enunciating, pausing more often and smiling while you talk are some techniques you can adopt for a better conversation.
* Stay in control
While it is good for you to stay pleasant during the call, it is imperative to ensure that you are in control as well. Once you confirm you are talking to the right person, address the debtor by name as this shows respect and draws attention. Throughout the conversation, try to validate what the debtor says or show that you can understand his perspective. This keeps them from getting defensive and facilitates smoother communication. Listening carefully and asking open ended questions are often considered other tricks you can try. Make sure to stay focused and bring the talk back to the purpose of your call – getting the overdue amount paid.
* Avoid Confrontation and Manipulation
Debtors might use excuses, anger or abuse as tactics to end the conversation. In such situations, remember to stay calm and remind the other person that screaming or abusing would not help fix the problem. Offering to call back later or even using a few seconds of silence to let the debtor calm down are techniques often suggested. Try to get a sense of whether the person is being honest with you and confirm their excuses for non-payment before you proceed.
* Give options
If a customer expresses issues with paying off the debt, work out possible alternatives that can be considered and are feasible for both parties. This could include anything from paying in installments or by credit card to issuing a cheque or transferring the amount to the specific account. Ultimately, your intention is to get them to pay off the overdue amount at the earliest possible.
* Finalize things
Try to get the debtor to commit to a payment or even a payment date before you end the call. Asking for a good faith gesture like partial payment or some form of collateral is another option you can consider. Summarizing the main points of the conversation is a practical way of reinforcing your final decision. Include specifics such as the agreed date and method of payment while also emphasizing the urgency of the issue. Put this down in writing for future reference and ask for a callback to confirm once the payment has been done. Make sure to keep communications open as some difficult payments may often become possible in the future, if not now.
While these are useful tips to keep in mind while making a collection call, it is always essential to be flexible. Keep in mind that each debtor is different and has to be spoken to with a different approach.