Early, personal & consistent contact are our mantra for effective telephone recoveries at TCS. The earlier a problem is actioned the easier it is to resolve. Whilst there is no doubt that letters, emails and texts have their place in contacting customers for overdue payments, making the contact personal allows for honest and open communication that doesn’t rely on the same interpretation that written text does. Following up in a timely & consistent manner, when you say you will, sets the expectation that the issue is not going away and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes when you are close to a situation it is hard to see your way through and often what happens is that we “leave that one for later”. Unfortunately, later tends to arrive at 90 or 120 days overdue, the person who you dealt with has left or is away on leave and suddenly the situation is much harder than it ever needed to be.

Here are some tips for you to try when you are next faced with a difficult account.

Check your facts – The debtor hasn’t paid, is this out of character? are you sure an invoice was sent? Have you answered any issues raised by your customer? If the answer is no, go ahead, pick up the phone and ask for payment.

Don’t mistake aggression for assertiveness – Be confident but nice. Many of the accounts we see stem from a breakdown in communication. Speaking aggressively and with anger is likely to evoke a similar response which is unlikely to bring about payment.

Speak clearly – Make a point of slowing down. Put pauses between your sentences. You’ll sound more confident which is more important for your results than actually being confident. And from a practical point of view, nothing undermines confidence like being asked to repeat your name, where you’re from, and what you’re calling about. Make sure they hear it the first time.

Avoid rising terminal pitch – Say that sentence aloud as if it were a question and you’ll hear what we mean. Try to keep your voice at a normal or lower level at the end of non-question sentences. This will make you sound more confident and in control.

Sound as if you assume that the customer will pay – “What time frame will this be paid?” Can you transfer the funds today? Can you pay by Credit card now? Notice that the question is not whether the customer will pay – that’s assumed – but the question is whether they can pay now, today. This also a good time to work in some closed ended questions, such as, “Is Friday or Monday better for you to transfer the funds?”.

Silence is golden – The mighty pause. Ask for payment confidently, then stop. Let them fill the silence. This works especially well if you happen across an irate customer. Often they simply want to be heard and once they’ve had their say will calm down enough to speak to you in a reasonable fashion. Someone who’s “hot under the collar” wont hear you. Allowing them to vent, and calm down makes them much more receptive.

Don’t talk over customers – In terms of controlling the conversation, we often see that people try to “talk over” customers to regain control of a conversation and in doing so may fail to listen. Call centre staff are under pressure to get through lots of calls, and of course we’ve usually heard it all before. We need to balance the ‘cut to the chase’ with the need to listen and do this without appearing to be rude. One way to regain control of a conversation is to repeat something that your customer has said back to them, showing that you have been listening, and then go on to take the conversation where you want it to go.

Stay in control of the conversation – You seize control, first by being the one who sets the agenda – that is, tell them what the two of you are going to talk about – second, by asking questions (which necessarily determine what the other party will talk about next), and third, by recapping on who is to do what and by when.

Document and confirm – Make notes of who you spoke to and what was discussed. Send confirmation to your customer via email to confirm any arrangements or commitments that were made.

If you feel your time could be better spent working in other areas of your business, TCS stands ready to help you by handling these difficult conversations for you. Often having an intermediary step in can remove some of the emotion out of the conversation and allow for a quicker result. At TCS we can help you retrieve your money from your debtors and manage the situation professionally allowing you get to preserve your relationships and get on with the job at hand.

We recognise that every business and every case is different. We invite you to contact us directly for a confidential and obligation free chat about the best was to approach your specific needs.

With over 140 years’ experience in debt collection and credit management in the Tasmanian marketplace, we have the right people, tools, and knowledge to make a difference to your bottom line. Get your debts under control quickly and easily by engaging our services.

Call 03 6213-5555 Email [email protected] or Connect at www.tascol.com.au/contact-us/