Everyone in an organization understands how important is to receive payments, right? So why are so many people reluctant to ask for them?
Many organizations do not try to call customers that are delinquent. Many of them are too busy, some people dislike asking people for money, and others say it’s a waste of time.
The truth is, calling is the most effective technique to recover debts. Streamline your collection process by using these easy steps:
1. Identify the customer. You are allowed to discuss the debt with the customer, their spouse, their lawyer, and parent or guardian (if the customer is a minor). For medical offices, make sure you stay HIPAA compliant.
2. Identify yourself. Be clear about who you are and the company you represent.
3. Request payment in full. Here’s what you should say: “You have an unpaid balance of $200, and payment is due in full today. Which credit card will you be using today?” Do not ask if they can set up a payment plan. You may want to offer that later in the conversation, but do not make that your opening offer.
4. Psychological pause. After you ask for payment in full, it is important to let them speak next. Be patient and get ready to listen. They probably were not expecting your phone call so they need time to digest what you just told them. Also, it puts the burden of answering your request on them. If they do not speak, repeat #3.
5. Determine the problem. Make sure you understand why they cannot pay. Repeat back to them your understanding of why they cannot pay. After you have listened to the reason that they cannot pay, you have to determine if their reason is a real objection or a stall.
6. Determine the solution. “Let’s put our heads together and find a solution.” That should be your attitude. If you are setting up a payment plan, your opening position should be for half the balance due immediately and split the remaining balance in two payments. Many A/R managers believe that you have to set up a payment plan even if the customer wants to make small payments. That is not true. You should determine an office policy on what is acceptable.
7. Close the deal. If you were unable to get payment in full today, you need to clarify and verify your payment plan so that there aren’t any misunderstandings. Let them know that if they do not honor their commitment or call you to make other arrangements, that you may send them to collections without notice. Don’t threaten them. Just let them know in a nice way, that collections is an option.
8. Update your files. Make sure you take good notes. Anything you learned from the conversation could be helpful if you need to call them back. If you set up a payment plan, make sure you have a tracking plan to verify that they have made their payments.
Practice! Practice! Practice! The more comfortable you are talking with customers about their bills over the phone, the better success you will have.