National SOC Month

Collection Tips for A/R Pros

  • Written by Collection Advisor

Valuable information should be absorbed whenever it presents itself, particularly when it is from the minds of industry thought leaders. Fortunately, there is some presented right here, plain and simple. Do your best to put it into practice today.

Nick Jarman Owner of RightAway Consulting

Be Positive: Accept full responsibility for your choices. A positive attitude is a decision we make, moment by moment. If you look for the worst, you will find it everywhere. When you learn you have the power to choose your response to what life brings, you can look for the best and find incredible opportunities. If you find yourself with an attitude that is not what you want, change it!

Be Present: Be totally focused on the moment and on the person or task with which you are engaged. When you are fully present with each other, you are listening deeply and important opportunities do not escape you. The glue in us is being fully present for one another in all situations. Being present is a great way to fight burnout and it creates focus so that you do not keep wearing yourself out. Giving 100% to the task at hand demonstrates dedication, cooperation, and enthusiasm.

Be Memorable: Make someone’s day or moment through a small act of kindness. Turn a routine call or encounter into special memories. Never be afraid to lend a helping hand when a situation warrants it or not. Be sure to give words of encouragement and turn difficult circumstances into positive experiences. Offer to listen to issues or situations that are going on around you and act accordingly. Do not always think about the “expected,” but think about the “unexpected” as well. Most importantly, make them remember you.

Lou Freedman Partner at Blitt and Gaines, PC

The Culture of Dignity. Never lose your temper despite a frustrating call or tone from the consumer. Whether their situation is one they heaped upon themselves or a life-changing event that impacted their finances, it’s important to understand as best you can how they feel on the other end of the call. Collection with dignity is the gold standard.

Get Lawyers Involved. Understand that legal collections provides support for the call center, and vice versa. If the call can’t provide a solution for payment, or the consumer refuses to communicate, understand that you work for a law office that can level the playing field through the court system. Service of summons, a pending court date, or filing of a garnishment sometimes provides the inbound contact that helps reach a solution.

Harry A. Strausser III President of Interact Training & Development

Never, Ever, Stop Learning. One of the joys of life is to continually embrace the idea that “we don’t know everything.” The day we start thinking “we know it all” is the day that we should start looking for another job. Education is at the very heart of the collections industry. Whether you are a front-line collection professional or the CEO, the changing landscape of the ARM industry provides for a wealth of educational opportunities.

Never Underestimate the Power of Positive Thinking. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, told us in his best-selling book, The Power of Positive Thinking, that looking at our personal lives and our professional goals in a positive light leads us to higher levels of success. When you are feeling down or negative, do your best to look at the silver lining that might be temporarily hidden.

No One in the Company is More Important Than Another. We might argue that without the CEO/owner, we have no company. However, those that have been part of successful organizations embrace the notion that everyone is a vital piece of the organization’s ability to build a pathway leading to growth and future existence. No job is beneath another. What impacts your company more, the receptionist or lead payment poster out for the day or the CEO?

Michael Starzec Partner at Blitt and Gaines, PC

Situational Awareness - the case is set for trial and the notes reflect no witness. Is this the time to keep pounding on the payment plan that is completed in 12 months with a large down payment when the consumer has said they cannot do it? Or do you take the offer that is within parameters or follow up with the client to see if you can accept it.

Ron L. Brown President and CEO of CSI Group

What Not to Ask. When dealing with a consumer never ask them if they can pay the debt. Ask, “how soon can we expect the balance in our office?” If you do not get a positive reply ask simple questions such as “why” or “why not.” The professional collector must know the consumer’s circumstances before they can set up a payment arrangement.

Leave Room to Renegotiate. After ascertaining the consumer cannot pay a balance in full and a payment schedule is being worked out, never set payments up at a given amount for more than 90 days. The consumer’s circumstances may change and if you have a $500 account set up at $50 per month you have locked yourself in to that amount. Each 90 days a professional collector should review the consumer’s circumstances and attempt to increase the payment amount.

Keep Data Fresh. A professional collector will constantly strive to update the consumer’s data in the collection file. Never use phrases like, “do you still work down at Ajax Plumbing?” or, “does your wife still work at Baptist Hospital?” This type of questioning encourages the consumer to just say, “Yes.” Ask outright, “Who is your current employer and what is a number there that we can contact you?” or “Where is your wife currently employed?”

David Olefsky Partner at Blitt and Gaines, PC

Better Understanding the Customers Dispute: It is common for a collector to focus on shortening a call with a consumer after they identify securing a payment or an agreement is not possible. Notes for consumer disputes are far too often short and without detail. It is crucial that each manager have a script of questions for their team to ensure we can accurately report to the client.

Preventing the Call Transfer: We all have collectors who transfer a call to another collector as it doesn’t positively impact their money. The bottom line is all call transfers impact the consumers experience with your office. We need to focus on strategies to encourage our collectors to handle all calls within their abilities while balancing the impact it could have on inbound calls for their assigned client.