Are you ready to begin making collection calls on past due accounts, but are not sure exactly where or how to start? One of the most important things you can do when making a collection call on a past due account is to be prepared for anything the client or customer may throw your way. You can and will hear things that you won’t expect! With that in mind, we have prepared a sample phone script that will make your life easier.
Prepare for Calls
Before you begin, create an itemized list of the debt owed and any late fees or penalties attached to the debt. Review their entire file. You need to know just how past due the account is, when the last payment was made, and the amount of the payment.
Step 1 – Identify the Client
When calling a client or customer, be sure to verify that the person you are speaking with is the appropriate person to handle the issue at hand. Be sure to identify the name of the company or organization for which you are collecting the debt. The receptionist of a company may not have any power to handle past due accounts. He or she probably cannot authorize a payment for you. So, it’s important that you get to the right person.
The same is true of consumers. Make sure that you have the right person on the phone. Although it is legal to call neighbors or family members, you cannot give them information about the debt. You can only ask for current contact information and ask them to have the debtor call you. To do anything more is a violation of the law.
Step 2 – Identify Yourself
Once the individual has verified their identity, explain that you are calling to collect on a past due debt. State the length of time that the debt is past due. Ask if they are ready to pay the full balance at this time.
Step 3 – Offer Options and Solutions!
Debt collection isn’t about bullying people. It’s about helping others by offering options and solutions. People don’t usually contract services from others and have a thought that they’re just not going to pay. Most people don’t like being in debt.
If the individual says that they cannot pay the full balance at this time, take time to build rapport. Ask them what has been going on to make the account delinquent. Be sure to give them time to answer and be prepared for a number of various explanations and (sometimes) excuses that will be given. Also, be sure to show empathy to their situation. People tend to be more willing to pay a past due balance if they feel you are on their side.
You are in the position to solve a problem for yourself and for the delinquent account holder. Ask them if they can make at a partial payment today. Then, set up a payment plan for the remaining balance due. You can also refer your clients over to our free financial tool Hello Finance Manager. It can help the debtor find a loan that will meet their needs to get you paid off in full!
Step 3 – Be Ready to Negotiate and Possibly Settle
Before you make calls, know what you are willing to take on this debt. Perhaps you are willing to cut out late fees or penalties, take a half payment now and a half payment later, or even break the total amount down into smaller payments. Remember, the goal is to collect the debt owed. Understand that settling isn’t inherently a bad option. Some money is often better than no money.
Be sure to never use any type of harassing language, verbal abuse, threats of any kind, or intimidation tactics. This is against the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. Violation of the FDCPA can land you in trouble with the law.
Be sure to call at the right time. The law prohibits you from calling at inconvenient times. A general rule of thumb is to not call before 8 am or after 9 pm, unless the client specifically gives you permission to do so. Also, if the past due account holder requests that you do not call their job or even contact them by phone at all, you must honor that request.
Let the client or customer know that you and your company value their business and want to continue doing business with them, but cannot until the past due balance has been made current or a payment plan is place. This reinforces client loyalty.
Let them know if they cannot make a payment of any sort today you will call them back at a later time to try to set something up and that you want to help them to remedy the situation. Make sure that you do follow up on that date.
Be sure to document everything including any contact made with the client, payment arrangements made, accounts paid off in full, or if they can or cannot make a payment at all. Good documentation will help you to decide in the future the next course of action to take.
If all else fails, remember that Clients A.R.M. is here for you, ready to help with all you A.R. and collection needs. We have more than 30 years of experience and we have a 99% collections rate! Give us a call to find out how you can get started!