Tips for making successful collection calls
Oct 21, 2014 Philip Burgess
At one time, when the phone rang, it could have been anyone - friends, family, work or even the local politician calling ahead of an election. However, now with the popularity of caller ID, the mystery and allure of a ringing phone has somewhat diminished. This makes the job of those calling on behalf of a debt collection company a bit more difficult. Collection calls are all about striking a delicate balance between getting your point across and maintaining composure. This can be hard at times, especially when the person who owes money is putting up resistance.
Agents need to develop a strategy before making any calls to ensure they hit all the points that must be addressed and approach the situation in the appropriate manner. Here are some tips that can help collection calls succeed and guarantee everyone gets what they want as efficiently as possible:
- Do your prep work - It doesn't matter how many calls have to be made in a day, agents need to prepare before each interaction to get the best results, according to Credit-to-Cash Advisor. Any previous debt collection data could prove very useful and should be arranged in front of the caller beforehand. Excuses are likely to be some of the first things heard during any call. Sometimes, they can be easily countered if a list of common excuses and appropriate responses that are thought out and rehearsed is kept nearby. This can help keep conversations on track despite attempts to derail it. But the most important information employees need to prepare with are the facts. This includes how much is owed and to who or what organization, as well as the correct dates and terms of the debt.
- Speak with the right tone - No matter what a debtor says, callers need to maintain professionalism and speak with the right tone and attitude. If agents immediately begin a conversation in a positive voice, the alleged defaulter will be more likely to mimic the tone and steer the engagement down a more conducive path. This is especially important for employees who recently had a negative interaction. It's not beneficial to go into a new case carrying the frustrations of the previous call. Agents can't get wrapped up in the moment and start raising their voices. Swearing and threatening also don't contribute to the purpose of the conversation - and these actions are actually against the law, according to the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. Collection callers must go into every instance with authority so they can dictate the conversation's pace and direction. The right tone, pitch, inflection and even the speed at which points are delivered can help positively influence debtors, added the source.
- Clarify who's being spoken to - For the message to get to the right person, agents should always confirm the identity of who they're speaking with and, if the person on the other end of the phone is not the debtor, professionals should try to get the intended recipient on the line, asserted Life Tips. Some people may attempt to sidestep a collection call by redirecting the blame or providing different contact information, but if a caller knows who they're supposed to be speaking to, they shouldn't accept anyone but the debtor or their legal counsel.
- Maintain control of the conversation - When the responses of a debtor start getting away from the topic, collectors must attempt to control the direction by asking tailored questions that facilitate responses. Throughout the whole conversation, agents should use the name of the recipient to command attention, stated Credit-to-Cash Advisor. To help smooth things over, callers should try to make the debtor feel right to some degree by accepting the circumstances of the situation as often as possible, replacing excuses with understanding and agreement, but always re-addressing the point of collection immediately after. By asking open-ended questions, agents can extract as much potentially useful information as possible. The use of silence can be very valuable for callers too. After every statement a debtor makes, collectors should leave a few seconds of silence to give them the chance to add more.
- Finalize everything before hanging up - The purpose of a collection call is to acquire answers and data. If agents don't get any solid commitments, the chances of them seeing payment dwindles fast. Callers should receive some kind of promise, even if it's just a return call. Before ending the conversation, agents should summarize everything that's been discussed to reaffirm it in the mind of the debtor. Collectors should tell the recipient to call the day they put a payment in the mail too. If the agency doesn't get the phone call, they don't have to wait for the possibility of a check coming in the mail before taking the pursuit to the next level.