Checklist: Preparing to make a phone call to chase money

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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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.
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