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Telephone Collection Techniques
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 companies establish a grace period before any collection calls are made. This is an invitation for customers to delay payments, and there is no advantage to the seller of allowing any grace period of this type.

Collectors should keep the initiative by making collection calls, rather than leaving messages [which often go unanswered anyway]. The advantages of placing the collection call are:

  • the caller has time to gather information and review their notes,

  • the collector can discuss strategies with their manager

  • the caller can find out if there are orders pending or on hold, and

  • the collector can prepare mentally for the call, and for any ensuing negotiation.

In summary, 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. Instead, use the "two and up rule". If you have called twice and left messages each time but you are still unable to reach accounts payable, change tactics. Move to the next level. If you started by calling the accounting manager twice, contact the controller. If the controller does not respond after two calls, contact the CFO. If the CFO fails to respond to your calls, contact the company President or owner.

Timing of collection calls is critical. Placing a call too early in the day or too late in the day is unlikely to produce the desired outcome. Doing so gives customers a built in excuse for not answering their phone. Try to schedule collection calls in your customer's "prime time" which is typically between 9:00 and 12:00.

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