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Tips on Training New Collectors
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start when you have a new collector. My assumption is that these new employees want to do a good job, and are looking to their manager to provide them with some specific guidance beginning their first day. Here are some of the collection procedures I would give [and have given] to any new collector their first day on the job:

  1. Approach the debt collection process systematically.

  2. Set goals for yourself each day.

  3. Set specific goals for each call.

  4. Review your previous collection notes before placing a call to a delinquent customer because doing so can often provide valuable insights about what you can expect.

  5. Know who you want to or need to speak with in order to get a payment commitment.

  6. Keep your message simple....We expect immediate payment in full of the past due balance.

  7. Don't use a speakerphone on collection calls. It is discourteous.

  8. Don't allow yourself to be distracted during your discussion with the customer...collection is hard work and requires your undivided attention.

  9. Don't waste the customer's time. Get to the reason for your call quickly and stick to the point.

  10. Expect a reasonable and specific commitment for payment before the end of each call.

  11. Don't argue. Stick to the facts. Keep personalities and previous problems out of the current discussion.

  12. Take brief notes during the call of their comments and commitments. Confirm payment commitments verbally before ending the call.

  13. If necessary, reconfirm the commitment in writing, preferably by fax or email the same day you receive the commitment.

  14. Follow up on every broken payment commitment. Ask: Why it happened? Why you were not notified? When payment will arrive, and if this is a firm commitment or their 'best guess.'

  15. Shorten the collection cycle by faxing rather than mailing supporting documents requested by a customer - even when there are a large number of pages to send.

  16. If your customer is not communicative, ask for their comments and feedback.

  17. Recognize that some customers respond to routine collection calls with anger in an effort to get you to back off. Don't back your job professionally and thoroughly.

  18. It is OK to be assertive; it is not OK to be aggressive when dealing with delinquent customers.

  19. Don't lose your temper or argue with customers. By acting professionally, no one can ever successfully challenge your actions.

  20. Don't agree to any extended payment plan proposed by a delinquent customer without the approval of your manager.

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