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Third Party Debt Collection
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The ABCs of Telephone Collections
by Robert M. Tharnish, Vice President International and Corporate Quality, ABC-Amega, Inc.
nticipate your needs before you start your call. Have all of the information and tools you will require ready before you dial.
elieve in your ability. If you have confidence in yourself, you will have a better chance of accomplishing what you set out to do.
ontrol the conversation. Be firm and businesslike. Keep in mind your goal is payment in full.
evelop a “third ear.” Listen closely for clues in what is said, what isn’t said, and how it’s being said.
ncourage the debtor to talk. Let him tell his own story in his own way.
ocus attention on developing a definite plan of action that will completely resolve the account.
uard against showing any signs of belligerence. A good collector can’t afford a bad temper.
elp yourself by not accepting arrangements that are not in your company’s best interests.
dentify the debtor, yourself, and the amount of the claim. Be sure you are talking to the person who can authorize payment.
ot down notes as you talk to the debtor. Don’t trust your memory. You need an accurate record of your telephone interviews.
ey your focus on the real problems and solutions.
ead the debtor to develop a plan of action that will resolve the account in full. Allow the debtor to make the initial offer.
ove quickly on reasonable settlement offers by getting approval immediately.
egotiate the most advantageous settlement possible.
bserve any signs of the debtor holding back information or making inconsistent statements. These may be a clue to his intentions.
ause for a short time after stating the purpose of the call. This throws the burden of the conversation on the debtor and gives him the chance to offer payment or explain his reasons for nonpayment.
uench any tendencies to preach, moralize, judge, or argue. Avoid fighting words.
eview your notes. If there are previously broken commitments, you need to keep a close eye on whether the debtor keeps future promises.
ell the debtor on the benefits of paying the account in full.
alk clearly and distinctly when making a collection call. If you speak too fast, train yourself to slow down. This helps avoid any possibility the debtor may misunderstand you.
se your mistakes to improve your technique.
ary your approach. If you’re not getting through, try a different tack.
ithhold agreement to accept a partial payment until you are fully satisfied that there is no other means of obtaining payment.
-ray and examine the facts. If you encounter a problem you can’t resolve, enlist the aid of your supervisor or a more experienced collector on your team.
ield only when you are convinced that the claim is impossible to collect.
ero-in on every call you make. Persistence and patience pay off.