Checklist: Preparing to make a phone call to chase money
Last updated on February 13, 2013
Successful telephone collection calls are structured and controlled. These six steps will help you make a successful collection call:
Step 1 - Preparing to make the call
- Plan the call and determine what you want as the outcome.
- Have all information and data readily available, such as:
- correct telephone number and right contact name
- amount outstanding
- what the debt is for (products or services purchased)
- customer order numbers
- evidence of receipt of products or services
- date of last transaction
- what the past volume of sales has been
- record of customer’s payments in the past
- how many attempts have been made to contact the debtor
- form in which previous communications have been made – letter, telephone, facsimile or email
- record of last call made to the debtor
- present or last known address
- whether any other member of staff has communicated recently with the debtor
- whether the debtor has a standard excuse.
Step 2 - Make an introduction
- Be prepared to take control.
- Be positive.
- Identify yourself.
- Identify the person you are talking to.
- State the reason for your call.
- If the person you need is not there, leave your name but do not disclose the reason for your call.
Step 3 – Converse with the debtor with a view to obtaining payment in full
- Ask for payment in full.
- Convey a sense of urgency by setting deadlines.
- Use a pause to put the burden of conversation on the debtor, such as "I need your payment no later than Friday". Pause. Don't say another word – you are applying pressure in the most powerful way possible – through silence.
- Ask questions.
- Be a good listener – listen for clues on how the debtor may be able to pay.
- Sell the benefits of paying.
- Don't argue, preach, judge or moralise.
- Don't let the debtor rattle you.
Step 4 - Find the solution
- Assume leadership in finding a solution to payment.
- When the debtor indicates why the account has not been paid, you will have an indication as to how the issue may be resolved.
- Do not agree to an instalment plan until you know with conviction that there is no alternative.
Step 6 - Motivate the debtor
- Payment will be more likely if you can combine the debtor’s motivation to satisfy some need (physical, security, social, ego or self-fulfilment) with appeals to the debtor’s honesty, integrity, pride, fears or anxiety.
Step 7 - Close
- Close the call when you have achieved payment in full or reached agreement as to acceptable terms.
- If payment in full cannot be obtained, remember that a debtor’s first offer of a payment plan is seldom their best.
- Where an instalment plan is adopted, a commitment to amount, method and dates for payment is required.
- Send a letter, facsimile or email by way of confirmation.
- Record details in the debtor’s file and make plans to follow up the arrangement made.