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How to collect overdue bills and retain your customers- 11 tips

Businesses sell goods and services to customers everyday and in many cases expect payment at a later time. In order to remain in business, it is important that you get payment on time based on your contracts with customers. Failure to get payment and on time can mean the difference between staying in business and getting out of business.

This is where a bill collector comes in handy. The collector’s job is to recover unpaid bills and preferably retain customers.

The best collector will always get paid before other collectors. The best collector will also often retain customers.

Here are 11 tips to to help you sharpen your collection skills, get paid and grow your business.

  1. Always smile: Many collection phone calls can be difficult. When making a collection call, smile and visualize the call conversation from start to end. This will help you assess the entire conversation and increase the likelihood of getting paid.
  2. Calling time: Are you making the call at the right time? If not, set up a good time to call back.
  3. Be courteous: Remain calm and courteous during the entire call.
  4. Ask questions: This will help you find out what might have caused non payment, so you can empathize, offer suggestions and payment options.
  5. Listen: You will find out plenty if you listen patiently, attentively and actively. If you are not a good listener, it will take a conscious effort over time, to practice and perfect this skill.
  6. Don’t interrupt: Unless you notice repetition, avoidance, rudeness, insults etc., always avoid interrupting.
  7. Stay positive: Start the call well and end on a positive note. Recap the payment arrangements you have made including dates, method of payment and amounts.
  8. Be professional: Watch what responses you provide and how you respond. Ensure that you use clear tone of voice, good speed/rate of speech, have clear pronunciation, are loud enough but don’t shout.
  9. Don’t get hooked: Stay focused on the reason for the call. Avoid getting dragged into unproductive side issues and  arguments. Sense any of this and steer yourself back to the objective at hand. Redirect the customer in cases of ranting and verbal abuse. To regain control of a conversation that is not going well, you can place the customer on hold for a minute or so. Silence will let you regain your calm and might change the customer’s attitude. In many cases customers will apologize for inappropriate attitude when the call resumes.
  10. Make notes: During the conversation, make accurate notes. This will help you paraphrase the customer’s statements during the call and also recap facts at the end of the call.
  11. Collect: Always keep in mind the purpose of your call is to collect the unpaid bill(s) and retain the customer. In the end your call is successful when the debtor pays and stays with your business. That is what you want. A win win outcome. Happy collecting!

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