Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers.
All collectors need a rough script before they pick up the phone. While scripts may vary from industry to industry, each one should have a few basic strategies that both gain the trust of your customer and also get them to pay. Having a script for your collection calls is one of the best ways to improve your odds of success. Once you have a script in place, the next step is to work on tweaking it for your business, in order to improve your results even more.
With that in mind, here are 8 tips to write your debt collection call script:
1. Identify the customer, then yourself
Make sure you’re talking to the right person. ACCC guidelines state that you must not divulge any personal details about the debt to anyone else, other than the debtor, so make sure you are speaking to the correct person. Calling the customer by their first name establishes a level of expected respect. Ask him/her to verify an address or date of birth, social or other personal information from their past due account. Once you have established you have the correct customer, you then need to properly identify yourself, your company and the reason for your call. You need to be open and transparent about who you are, where you are calling from and why you are calling. There should be no doubt in the customer’s mind about who you are and your intentions in making the call.
2. Keep it friendly and positive
The next step in writing your debt collection call script is to make sure that all of your phrasing comes across in a positive and friendly manner. You will want to practice saying the scripted lines so that you can determine if they come across the way you intended them to. You will be surprised by how many lines that look harmless on paper actually sound antagonistic over the phone.
3. Ask for payment in full
Do not be afraid to ask for payment in full. If you ask for payment in full in the first instance, you can always work down from there, so never ask for anything less than payment in full. Do not ask “when can you pay?” or “how much can you pay? “. These type of phrases simply give your customer an excuse to stall payment.
Phrase it so that it’s simply “How do you intend to pay?“ Then give them the payment options to pay. Phrasing it this way presupposes that they are going to pay, it’s simply a matter of how, not if and when.
4. Pause and listen
Once you have asked them how they are going to pay, the most important thing to do is stop talking and listen. Keep listening until your customer has stopped talking. Your customers’ initial responses may offer clues to their financial status and how likely they are to pay, so keep listening. Listen for clues to determine whether they intend to pay at all and, if so, when they intend to pay.
5. Have answers for common excuses
Many of the customers you attempt to collect from are going to give you a handful of common excuses. You should research what these common excuses are for your industry or your particular product or service, then have answers already prepared for them. This will give you the upper hand with the most common excuses.
6. Find a solution
If by now, you still don’t have a promise to pay, find a solution for your customer. Whilst it’s not your job to provide financial counselling or advice, it most certainly is your job to work with your customer to find the easiest and fastest way possible for them to repay their debt.
It’s your job to help them figure out where to find the money to pay the bill. For a company that owes commercial debt that could mean suggesting that the owner tap a personal credit card or line of credit. An individual could borrow from a family member, or put in their tax return to get a tax refund. If someone mentions that they have lived in their home for 20 years, suggest a home-equity loan.
The key to making these kinds of suggestions without overstepping your boundaries is to treat your customer with respect. Some customers may even be open to help with budgeting, and you can suggest tactics like car-loan extensions to free up more cash.
7. Close the deal
A promise to pay isn’t enough. Try to get payment information at once so backing out of an agreement is less possible. Agree on a date for payment. Ask them how they will make the payment and on what date. If that is not an option then once an agreement has been reached on the amount to be paid and the number of installments, have the customer repeat this information to you. Not only does this make sure the customer understands the payment structure agreed upon but it also imprints the idea on the consumer’s mind, making them more likely to comply.
Regardless of how the call goes, you want your debt collection call script to insist that your customer commits to a certain payment, at a certain time, by a certain payment process.
8. Document your effort
Once you have closed the deal, ensure you document all the details and send a copy immediately to your customer. Don’t forget to diary date it to follow up on or before the payment is due. You need to have the information at your fingertips because a significant portion of people will not pay when they say they will. If they say they will pay you on Monday, you should be ready to call them again on Tuesday. You have to be persistent. Think of the money you’re collecting as your own personal funds, in order to treat the call with more urgency. So, remember, always use the script.
Each of these small details might seem insignificant on the surface, but when you combine all of them together, they can make a difference between collecting what is owed to you now, or writing it off as a bad debt later. Which sounds better to you? Don’t forget to be persistent, yet friendly. Having a debt collection call script will keep you on point and also keep everyone in your collections team on the same page.
ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers is a legal practice specialising in commercial advice and litigation, debt recovery and insurance claims recovery disputes. For more information, email us at email@example.com or call 1300 799 820. Talk to us about your litigation or dispute concerns via Skype at adclegal