Debt collection is not always easy but it is now a part of almost every operating business. Several companies are choosing to tackle this either with the help of debt collection agencies or their own team of collection officers. If you have experience working as a collection officer, you will already know that the debt collection process can be complicated at times. If you’ve been thinking about how to improve debt collection or about successful debt collection techniques, here are a few tips for you.
Understand Your Customer:
It is important that you spend a bit of time to learn more about your customer in order to make the collection process easier. Do a bit of background research to understand their situation and make a note of anything that you think might help you during your interactions. Go through any past invoices and other customer data that you have and keep a copy of them with you.
Record Everything You Discuss:
Make sure you take notes of everything you discuss with your customer – specially any verbal agreements that you both decide on. If you frequently communicate with your customer over phone, recording your conversations may help you out in instances when you want to refer back to what was discussed. Maintain a separate folder for each client to help you manage your customer information with ease.
Always Be Pleasant to the Customer:
As a collection officer, it is very easy to lose your temper in situations where clients are being uncooperative or stubborn. However, keep in mind that the way you interact with your customer could ultimately decide the outcome. Do not retaliate in situations when the client loses their temper; keep your cool and say what you need to say clearly & concisely, while maintaining professionalism at all times. Keep all your conversations as constructive as possible so that you can make progress in your communication.
Maintain Constant Communication:
This is perhaps the most important thing that you should do. Even if the customer is unable to make the due payments immediately, listen to what they have to say and try to work towards a solution. Keeping on communicating with the customer not only provides reminders on due payments; it also helps to build a relationship with your customer. If the customer is unreachable, you will need to find out an alternate way to get through to them.
Do Not Make Any Assumptions:
Another important tip is to not leave any room for assumptions. When making your first call to the customer, do not simply assume that the debt has not been paid; hear out what they have to say so that you can gain a perspective on their point of view – before you work out what has really happened. Listen closely, be sensitive to the customer’s situation and never belittle them.
Always Provide a Recap of the Terms:
When communicating with the client, it is a good idea to frequently provide a summary of the terms so that they are on the same page. Include any terms that the client has previously agreed to – such as promised payment dates, what form of payment will be made and other payment details.
Provide Options to Customers:
Being flexible with clients is important. Do not be fixed on a single solution; if they cannot make payments immediately, talk with them, put yourself in their shoes and try to find an alternate solution that will work for both you and them. Be creative and figure out a win-win situation within reasonable terms.
Though it is important to be flexible, remember that you need to stay within the the bounds of collection laws as well as the guidelines outlined by your company when negotiating with the customer. Do not make promises that you cannot keep and ensure that anything you agree to is realistically possible, in order to avoid losing the trust of the client.
Allocate Your Time Wisely:
Collection can be an extremely time-consuming task and it is easy to find yourself spending several unproductive hours on difficult clients. To help avoid wasting time, make sure that you prioritize your work well – by allocating more time to important collections that you must make and less time to low-priority collections.
Aim for Shorter Collections:
Keep in mind that as time passes, debt collection becomes trickier. Though it might not be possible to collect debt immediately in most cases, try to close the collection within the shortest possible time frame. Always follow up on due payments and make sure that there are no delays on your end.
How to Help Customers Make Online Payments
Given the present situation caused by the pandemic, making online payments is the best repayment option out there. However not all customers are used to making payments online and it may be up to you to convince them on why they should. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Remember that not all customers are tech-savvy and many of them may have never made an online payment before. First try to talk them through a solution to help them find access to the resources they need – such as a computer, mobile phone or internet connection. Afterwards take them through the steps slowly and carefully, offering any explanations or clarifications when needed.
Explain the Benefits:
Highlighting the benefits of making online payments is a good way to remind customers why exactly they should make the switch in the first place. Stress on the safety benefits during the present situation and highlight the convenience, time saved as well as other benefits.
Making the switch to online payments for the first time is not easy and be prepared to help the customer when you can. Offering a little help can ultimately go a long way and make life easier for you as well as your customer.