The telephone is the best way of communicating with a debtor. Are you agree on that?


One of the most commonly used method of debt collection that credit collection agencies use is the telephone. Aside from face-to-face interaction with the debtor, and early collection demand letters, the telephone is the best way of communicating with a debtor. 

Telephone communication is vital to debt collection efforts because of its typically faster resolution outcomes. But a debt collector must abide by fair telephone debt collection practices such as choosing the appropriate time for collection calls so that this debt collection method will bear optimal results.

 Tips for Making Collection Calls that Get Results

#1 Always Be Prepared – Generally and Specifically
  • Be Ready to Handle Excuses

Before making your next collection call, take time to compile a list of common debtor excuses, matching them with effective rebuttals. Write them down on file cards or include them in your computer scripting. Group them by category and keep them handy. Exchange ideas with others in your department. Then, when the debtor tries to end the call by offering an excuse, you can take control by countering with a well-thought out reply and returning to the purpose of your call -- collecting the debt.
  • Arm Yourself with the Facts

Before you pick up the phone, It's critical that you have all the specifics of the debt you’re calling about. Having the facts in front of you keeps you in control. You don't want the conversation to get derailed by a question you can't answer. Many debtors know how to use this to their advantage. Suddenly they can't discuss payment on their account without details you don't have and they don't "have in front of them" either. So, the call is over.
  • Know Who You're Calling

It's also helpful to brief yourself on the customer's payment record with your company, as well as any other payment history you may have available to you. Do they usually pay on time? Are payments getting slower and slower? Is past-due payment uncharacteristic of this customer?

#2 Think Positively

Your mental state has a strong impact both on how you handle the debtor and how they respond to you. Treat each call as if it was your first call of a very good day. Put a smile on your face. If you were irritated on the previous call, take a few minutes to calm yourself and start afresh. The debtor will respond to your tone. Your upbeat mood will be contagious and you are likely to get a more positive response from the debtor.

#3 Speak Professionally and Authoritatively

Most of us take our speaking voices for granted. But the tone, pitch, inflection and even the speed at which you talk can have a powerful influence on your listener. Think about typical news anchors or radio commentators. They have voices that command attention. With a little effort, you can develop one too.

Try recording a general collection call opening and then listen to yourself. Make adjustments as needed, and try again. This will not only improve how you come across on the phone, it will also build confidence. It does take a little time and extra work, but remember, sucess is strongly linked to preparation.

#4 Take Control and Don't Let Go
  • Address the debtor by name throughout the conversation. This shows respect on your part and commands their attention. 
  • Make the debtor right, even when they are wrong. You may not agree with what they’re saying, but you can still validate it. 
  • Ask open-ended questions. Try to get the debtor to give you as much information as possible. 
  • Listen carefully and take notes. You will get clues to whether the debtor is serious about paying. You'll also have ammunition for your next call and will be ready to counter any excuses that may have been tried in the past.

  • Use silence. Count slowly to five before responding to a debtor statement, and wait several seconds after asking a question. Leaving blank spaces in the conversation compels the debtor to fill them in.

  • Stay focused. Some debtors will try to get you off track by complaining about service, or somehow shifting the blame for their delinquency to you. Be polite, even validate their opinion. But always bring them right back to the point of your call -- getting paid the money rightfully due your company.

  • Don't let the debtor manipulate you. A screaming debtor could be using anger as a ploy to get you upset and end the conversation. If a debtor starts yelling or using abusive language, stay calm. Try reminding them that you cannot help resolve the situation if they are yelling.



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