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Improving Telephone Collections
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

Business Collection Tips
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Collection calls should be made without delay as soon as an account has become delinquent. Some creditor companies establish a grace period before collection calls are made. This is an invitation for customers to delay payments. There is no advantage to establishing a grace period of this type.

Collectors should take the initiative. One suggestion is to stop leaving message. If the person you want to speak with is out, rather than leave a message [which is often ignored] call again later. You may get lucky and reach the person who can help you get paid. If not, try again later in the day, or go back through the company operator and try to have the person you need to speak to paged.

The advantages of making calls and not leaving messages include:

  • The fact that you have time to gather information and review your records before making the call,

  • You can consider or discuss collection strategies,

  • Before calling, you can find out if there are any orders on hold or in production and use this information as leverage to get paid the money that is owed to your company

  • You can prepare mentally for the call, and for any ensuing negotiation. Placing the call gives the collector the advantage of position and preparation.

Don't waste time trying to contact the same person more than twice. Use the "two and up rule". If you have called twice and left messages each time, move to the next level. If you tried to reach the Accounts Payable Manager, ask for the Controller. If the Controller also fails to respond after two calls, contact the CFO or the company owner.

Timing of collection calls is critical. Placing a call too early in the day or too late in the day gives customers a built in excuse for not answering their phone. Schedule collection calls in your customer's "prime time" which is typically between 9:00 and 12:00 in whatever time zone they are located in.

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