At Ross, Stuart & Dawson, we conduct ourselves by a set of proven standards that have helped us not only maintain a successful record of commercial debt collection, but also have kept our valued clients coming back to us. Not only do we adhere to all federal and state laws that apply to our business, we also have internal rules that guide how we treat the people we work with.
Our rule #1 when dealing with delinquent customers? Treat them in a professional manner and with dignity. Let them know that your objective is simply to solve a problem involving their financial obligation to a client. The more pleasant you are with them, the more they will respond in a positive manner and be more willing to work with you. If you don’t believe me, try this: Call a debtor on the phone, identify yourself and the reason for your call, and demand that they drop a check in the mail by 5pm or else you will escalate this to the next level. I’ll bet that approach didn’t work, did it?
Try this instead: "Hi, this is Lee calling from ABC Co. I hope your day is going well so far. The purpose of my call is to simply determine if I may be of assistance to you in resolving your company’s outstanding balance. Were there any issues with the product/service you received from us?" Pause and let them speak. They may give you an excuse or a real or imagined dispute to stall or buy time. Your job is to keep your positive demeanor and help determine if the excuse or dispute is legitimate or false. If it’s legit, you need to assure them that you will go to bat for them and get to the bottom of the dispute and solve the problem for them. Then do exactly that. After that, they will almost certainly pay you. If the dispute/excuse is NOT legit, calmly explain to them why and review options with them.
We've given advice in the past on dealing with hostile debtors. Next week we'll dive into why and how to respond to them in a professional manner.