by Sandra Chesnutt
Recently, I spoke with a professional collections representative, Frances Robinson, to find out the secrets behind effective collections calls. As background, you should know that Frances, who has been in the collections industry for 17 years and has lead our collections team for three years, is well known at AdvancedAR for her kind and gentle spirit. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from our conversation:
Sandra: What is it like to call someone at a business about payment when you know that they are busy and not going to be excited to get your call?
Frances: Regardless of the industry there is a common phrase that is universal in the world of collections, “The check is in the mail.” Unfortunately, in many instances the invoice has not even been scheduled for payment, and this line is simply a way to get the collector off the telephone with a promise to pay.
Sandra: I bet you hear that frequently. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that promise is routinely broken. How do you respond?
Frances: The key to successful collections is to not take the broken promise so personally that it alters your personality, speech, and professionalism on the follow-up call. It is beneficial to maintain a firm but respectful tone during a collection call. This allows you as the person seeking to be paid to take control of the call and to stress the importance of making your company’s debt a priority without insulting the customer.
Sandra: How do you make sure that your phone call gets results?
Frances: As I have heard often, it is easier to draw bees with honey than vinegar. The same is true with collections. When a collector treats a debtor with respect, most of the time your invoice is placed closer to the pile of invoices scheduled to be paid.
Sandra: What philosophy have you developed from over 20 years in professional B2B collections?
Frances: My philosophy has always been to treat people the way I want to be treated. Each call and circumstance is different. A collector may be speaking to a customer experiencing temporary financial problems one month, and enjoying a flourishing business the next month.
Sandra: What’s changed about collections since you first began?
Frances: Although we are living in an electronic era, one factor remains the same in collections, often the check is actually in the mail, and past due invoices will be paid with follow up and a firm, but respectful, collection call.
Sandra Chesnutt is a Marketing Director with AdvancedAR. She spoke with Frances Robinson, a valued AdvancedAR associate who makes collections calls as part of the AR services provided by AdvancedAR. AdvancedAR combines professional receivables services with fast and affordable access to funding – providing small and medium businesses the cash they need to grow and take advantage of market opportunities.