telephone collections – made easier

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telephone collections – made easier

phone calls are much easier when you apply these stepsCollecting money over the phone when chasing slow payers can be much more effective by following a few ‘ground rules’.
After all, you probably don’t really want to make the phone call and the debtors probably don’t want to take your call, but these 6 simple tips will make life a little easier (and much more pleasant) – for you both!
1:  Smile

I know they can’t see you but …. According to research human beings can differentiate vocal intonation not only between a smile and a non-smile but among different types of smile. “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can actually identify the type of smile based on sound alone…”  And since 84% of the message over a phone is your tone of voice, making sure that “smiling tone” comes through is imperative.

2:  Stand Up

You can use body language to both feel and be more confident whenever you have to make (or take) a difficult phone call. Although the person on the other end can’t see you, they sure can hear you. And they can also pick up how strong and assertive (or weak and pathetic!!) you are on the phone talking. See this earlier post for more details.

3:  Establish rapport

The dictionary definition of rapport is: “A sympathetic relationship or understanding” or, put simply: “being a friend”.  So, use the same words as they do in conversation.  For example, if they say “I’m angry“, don’t say “I understand that you’re disturbed ..” they’ll only get angrier! Use their own words back at them. “I understand that you’re angry …

4:  Establish similarities

Think of how comfortable you might feel if, while living thousands of miles from where you grew up, you met someone from your hometown. That sense of connectedness creates an instant rapport between two people! Any common ground can help establish rapport – it can even help to have an interest in someone’s life or hobbies, or to share similar beliefs and values.

5:  Mirror the other person

Copy the other person’s speech patterns, such as vocal tone and volume. For instance, if he or she speaks softly and slowly, then lower the volume and tempo of your voice. Research by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation) suggests this is the most effective way to establish rapport. It’s very subtle, but it makes the other person feel comfortable and, most importantly, it makes them feel that they’re being understood.) It also increases trust

6:  Ask the debtor for a favour

Ask for a favour from the debtor – they will respect you more.  Use phrases like
“Is it ok if I call you on **** to follow that up?”
“Can I tell the manager that payment should be here by ****?”

To quote Ben Franklin, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”  This Forbes article expands on the point. 

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By | 2017-07-13T08:51:40+00:00 January 10th, 2013|telephone|2 Comments

About the Author:

Have you ever wondered why a client does business with you and then ignores your invoice like they had no intention of paying it in the first place or they treat you like their own personal line of credit, leaving YOU dangling, waiting months for their payment? Unfortunately this situation is all too common and can even be puzzling for the most experienced business owner. If you’ve ever had to handle outstanding accounts or you are just so over non-payers, then we can help. Real-world skills, solutions, tips & strategies to get more accounts paid on time, and, most importantly, how to maintain customer goodwill while keeping YOUR cash flow in the positive. You will find the blog posts helpful but to get real results, contact us by using any of the forms on this site, by email or by phone. I’ve been involved in the management of accounts for over 30 years, heard every excuse in the book, can spot a non-payer at 20 paces. Finance Companies in the 70s (systematic, tough), professional firms in the 80s (no systems, too gentle) and, since then, just about every other sort of business you can think of. I’ve written books on the topic, spoken all over the place about it and the blog in this website is my way of “giving back”. I hope you find it helpful.


  1. Tina Rountree January 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Michael-

    Great blog post. We use many of these techniques at our agency and have great success with the softer approach.

  2. Mintu Ghosh January 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    They say CASH is the king. Debtors ledgers may show we have positive balances,after taking off what we owe to the creditors, yet until cash is in the bank, they whole organ of trade stands still. In my job as a credit control manager a few years ago,we started pursuing for the debts passed 30 days credit limits, Initially with statements, then mentioning interests would be added if payments were not received by certain dates. Then we posted final demand notices,at this stage we were prepared to make phone call direct to the Credit manger.

    We stated politely, but firmly, and asked them for their reasons for dalaying settlements, and had useful dialogues. If money was not still forthcoming, we went direct to the Finanacial services managers after one week.Asked them for firm assurances for settlement dates. All the time we avoided threatening behavours, but firm. we knew as our long standing debtors, we had to go back to them to negociate for new business. Even we asked them if would like to talk to our debt collectors, once we passed the accounts to them.We tried until the last minutes not to involve any outsiders to handle our accounts.We also came to know the habits or intervals of payments made by our clients.Once they knew we were on the phone, they knew we would not relax until the outstanding debts were paid.there must always be cordial relationships,but not over familiarities.These telephone collection procedures could not be tailor made, as each company have different type of individuals,who’s responses were different. But they all knew and appreciated that if we could not get payments on time, we could not pay our own creditors, and borrowing from banks would only mean we would have to add our interest costs to the debtors.

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