Most debt collection agencies rely heavily on phone calls to contact the debtors they are collecting from. Because phone communication plays such an important roll in debt collection, it is important for debt collectors to know how to communicate effectively by phone. Here are some basic tips that can greatly increase collection success:
- Know what time to call. Some debtors work mornings, others don’t come in to the office until the afternoon. By knowing when the debtor is available to talk on the phone, collectors can avoid playing phone tag and get a hold of the debtor much more quickly. Simply ask the debtor (either in an early voicemail or when you speak to him or her on the phone for the first time) what time they are generally available to speak can save a significant amount of a collector’s time.
- Take notes of anything important said during the conversation. By keeping a log of any agreements or issues brought up by the debtor, collectors can avoid repeating or contradicting what they have already said. Keeping track of communications with a debtor can also be helpful if another collector makes a call on the account (because the original collector is out of town, for example) because they will have a clear record of everything that’s been said already.
- Be wary of leaving messages. With today’s quickly-evolving laws governing debt collection, it is very important that debt collectors never disclose private information regarding the debt to anybody other than the debtor, especially when collecting on a personal (rather than business-to-business) debt. As a general rule, collectors should assume that any voicemail messages they leave will be heard by somebody other than the debtor, and as a result no information regarding the debt should be mentioned.
- Communicate effectively and clearly. It is usually not helpful to blame the debtor or imply that they have failed by not upholding their commitment to pay their bills, and doing so will only make them upset and less willing to pay. Speak calmly and find out why the debtor hasn’t paid their bills, and then try to work towards a solution to the problem. If they have a complaint about the product or service, find out why and try to resolve the complaint. If the customer simply doesn’t have the money at that time, it is better to just call them back in a few weeks and reevaluate the situation than to belittle them or try to force them into payment agreements they cannot follow through with. While it is important to convey to the debtor that the matter is important and needs to be resolved as soon as possible, forcing the debtor into a payment plan they know they will default on will likely cause the debtor to be less interested in working with you.
Other tips to improve phone call effectiveness include speaking to the right person (generally, in business collection, this is the employee in charge of accounts payable) and adjusting tone of voice based on the debtor’s demeanor on the phone. By following these simple tips, debt collectors can greatly improve their collection success.