There are few people that love making collection calls. They take most people out of their comfort zone and can elicit fear of failure. And rightly so. A collection call handled badly can alienate your customers and cause friction between your credit and sales team.
Yet a telephone call is a great opportunity to remind your customer of the need to pay on time and, done well, can even be an opportunity to promote sales.
Your most important words in a collection call are your openings. When you talk to a slow-paying or non-paying customer, you want to get him or her into a receptive frame of mind so your message is heard and understood.
Following are some things you should make certain are part of your opening message.
- The purpose of your opening when calling your customer is twofold:
(2) to effectively transition you to the next part of the call; the questioning about the outstanding balance owed to your company.
- Write out your openings. Yes, script them. Everything else you’ll say is in response to what they say, but the opener can be prepared, word for word. This way, you know it will work.
- Avoid sounding like you’re working from a prepared opening. Rehearse them so they do not sound scripted.
- When editing your opening, scrutinize every word and idea and answer this question: Is this adding to the effectiveness of the opening? If not, cut it out completely, or reword it. Be relentless in your editing. Better that you rip it apart than your customer.
- Talk about ideas for resolving the debt at the beginning of the call, not about court or the recovery process. They resist if you mention hard collection tactics too soon.
- Create interest as succinctly as possible.
Always remember that you are dealing with a customer and hopefully will be doing business with them in the future. Most often, working together will get you paid and could get you more business.
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on Collection Calls. Please see other posts on this subject here:
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