Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, February 2, 2018

Collection Tip - The Timing of Calls

In the regular course of business, you might diarize files on a turnover basis, so you are effectively ‘rotating’ your files, reaching out for contact with consumers or businesses to make arrangements on outstanding accounts, but in some cases, you are going to want to set a specific time and date to call a specific account.  Here would be my advice on how to handle that.

Timed Calls on Arrangements

If a consumer advises they will be making a payment that you cannot capture on the phone that day (online bill payment, bank payment, sending a cheque by mail, etc) you will want to put a follow up date on the call.

For immediate arrangements, within 1-3 days, you want to set the call for the next day – if the payment comes in, great, if not, the file is scheduled for a follow up to tell the debtor you did not receive the bank payment, courier, or what have you.

If the arrangement is for a longer period (a week from Friday on payday, the end of the month, etc) you will not want to rely on their memory to send it out, and you will want to make a reminder call the day before, as a ‘courtesy call’ and to confirm arrangements.

Recurring Arrangements

On top of reminders, you may have debtors with post-dated cheques, pre-authorized payments, regular month-end payments, or the like.  Many collectors think the arrangement is set, and a call isn’t necessary – until cheques start bouncing three months later, because ‘out of sight, out of mind’, the consumer forgot about their obligation.  To keep a sense of urgency, the best thing you can do is to call after each payment, and give the consumer positive reinforcement – ‘we just processed your payment yesterday for $125, your balance is now $894.25, and I show we have your next pre-authorized payment scheduled for February 28th.  Do you have any questions?’

If it is cost-effective, it’s worth mailing these partial payments a balance letter in the mail – not to demand the balance and ignore the arrangements, but to keep a financial record for them and remind them of their obligations.

Missed Arrangements

Obviously, when a payment fails to come in, you will reach out to the consumer the next day – but after that, you really don’t want to escalate the turnover or recurring calls to more than once every 2-3 business days.  You do want to convey a message that starts with ‘your arrangements failed, what happened?’ to ‘your arrangements have failed, the balance is now due in full’, to ‘your arrangements have failed, we are now proceeding with consequences’.  Don’t drag it out as it turns into the collector effectively begging the consumer to make some sort of payment, and all the authority you have projected to this point is lost.

How To Remind Yourself of Timed Calls

Many collection folks use a daytimer book, calendar desk pad, CMS system with reminders, or other similar tools.  Remember to keep on top of your timed calls, as they have the highest probability of repayment.  In third party collections, the best time to start with those reminder calls are first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon (like a reverse bell curve).  Make sure you make these calls at effective times.

Some Programming-Fu

Recently we developed our collection software to issue out an email with an ICAL or calendar invite attachment that inserts into the local calendar program the collectors use, to allow staff to set reminders for other people.  If you are interested in the code we used, I’d be happy to share it.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit

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