Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers.
A debt collector plays a major role in improving the accounts receivable of an organization. As a debt collector, you would expect your debtors to be cooperative with you. At the same time, they would expect you to treat them in a professional way. Understanding that you cannot recover debt by harassing or intimidating someone is your first step in becoming a great debt collector.
Read further to get other valuable tips that you can follow in your vital role as a debt collector.
1. Understand the big picture.
It is true that the job of a debt collector is to collect debts. However, understanding the big picture and the other critical aspects like bankruptcy and legal procedures surrounding the debt collection and how different factors impact the debtor’s credit rating will help you in your job.
In addition, have a clear idea of what your client needs. Will they be happy with a reduced lump sum payment or do they require it in full? Does the debtor have to pay in a single shot or can they be allowed to make monthly instalments? You should know such critical information for making successful collections.
2. Be compliant.
Although compliance comes under the big picture, it is an important topic that deserves its own space. There are laws that control and govern the collection activity to ensure that the rights of the debtors are not violated. Here in Australia, we are governed under the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, who release debt collection guidelines for collectors and creditors. You can view the guidelines here.
Similarly, your collection agency or your client may lay down additional guidelines. For instance, our partner, Debt Recoveries Australia, are members of the Institute of Mercantile Agents and we abide by the Institute’s’ Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct.
Some of our clients are insurers and so we have to be aware of things like the Insurance Code of Practice, which has specific guidelines for third party service providers, such as our partner, Debt Recoveries Australia.
Make sure that you always stay within the boundaries of your guidelines in your particular field. Integrity and honesty are the two important pillars of debt collection. You can ensure that they are not affected in any situation only when you stay compliant throughout the process.
3. Be prepared for excuses.
Being compliant does not mean that you should listen to all the excuses that the debtors give. Such excuses are so common that you can easily list down the most often repeated ones and be prepared with appropriate responses to them. This will boost your confidence and help in your conversation with the debtors. Such preparedness will help you to stay focused on your responsibilities alone without any diversions. Some common excuses and their responses could be:
We are filing for bankruptcy.
You can ask them for the trustee’s name for further action.
We have mailed your cheque.
You can ask for more information like receipt number, bank institution and the date of posting.
We don’t have a copy of the invoice.
Send the invoice once again while you are on the call and ensure that they confirm the receipt.
4. Understand the debtor’s issues.
You may not accept all their excuses. But that does not mean that you should not listen. Listening to people when they relate their issues and reasons for non-payment will go a long way in acting as an icebreaker between you and them. Acknowledge that the situation of every debtor is unique. Therefore, show empathy in understanding their problems.
At the same time, make sure that they are not manipulating you by asking open-ended questions and recording all information.
5. Have clear documentation.
After your conversation with them, document all the information that you get out of the debtor so that you can review them later to identify any mismatch that may indicate non-willingness in the part of the debtor to pay. Being thorough in your documentation will help you in case you are forced to take the legal route. Most of the times, a thorough documentation prevents many troubles from happening and ensures a smooth collection process.
Collecting debts is a very tough job. At the same time, you should understand the debtor’s situation, be polite and professional and should never cross the lines. Such a sensitive job requires a host of important skills and characteristics like intelligence, intuition, objectiveness, negotiation expertise, keeping a cool head, and great communication.
When you make use of such expertise with the tips that you have read here, there is a good chance that you will become an awesome debt collector. Happy collecting!
Call me at 1300 799 820 or email me at email@example.com if you want any further help or tips. You may also Skype me at adclegal.