7 Strategies To Help You Collect On Your Broken Promises

If you work in collections, you see it all the time. Promise are made – Promises are broken. Being in the collection space for over 25 years, the industry has changed quite a bit. However, when it comes to recovering money, some things never change.  

Here a 7 strategies to help you collect on your broken promises efficiently and effectively.

  • Read your notes

Your first step is reading your notes. (That is if you took down notes the first time)

Where were they going to pay? Why were they past due? When? How much? Who were you speaking with? You always want to create a strategy and action plan before you open your mouth.

Always remember a weak promise from someone who breaks them all the time is useless.

  • Don’t rush through your call

Good collectors understand that it's all about efficiency and effectiveness. The customer who broke the promise might not be honest or sincere, but they at least picked up the phone and talked to you. Take your time and don’t rush through it.

What do debtors want? For you to get off the phone and go away.

Slow the conversation down and create a 2 way dialogue. 

  • Seek first to understand – Why is it broken?

Asking questions is critical to the collection process. And, it’s extremely important when handling broken promises.  You can ask questions like:  

  • Why did you not make the previous payment?
  • Are you behind with other creditors?
  • Are you currently working at XYZ?

Your goal as a collector is not to get a promise to pay. Collections is about getting payments and results with integrity. Some call centers and collection operators get caught up in the key performance indicators and lose sight of why they are calling.

  • Relate

If the customer thinks that you don’t care about them, they won’t care about your bill. One of the easiest ways to build rapport is to show empathy. You can say things like:

  • Mr. Customer, I was in your shoes in the past, and had collectors calling me all the time. I understand it’s difficult. My goal is to help you get through this. However, when we make arrangements, I need you to follow through or I won’t be able to help you. If you can’t follow through, you need to call me. We will work through this together.

By building trust, the customer will open up more. And, have a greater chance of paying. The last thing you want is for the debtor to go AWOL and disappear. You want to keep them engaged and talking.

  • Bridge and explain what will happen if 

Let your past due customer know what are the consequences are for not paying. I always find the best way to build trust, is to position it that you are not the decision maker. The client or the “manager” is deciding on next steps with the collection file.

For example, you can say something like “If you keep breaking payment arrangements, the file will be off my desk and I won’t be able to help you. And, my goal is help you get through this”  

  • Follow up

I see this all the time with companies. They have admin staff that don’t want to call collection customers because they hate asking for money. So, they send letters and emails. And, if they don’t pay, they just let it go. If you want to recover your money, you need to be persistent and follow up.

Collecting money takes commitment, drive and understanding.

  • Escalate to a Third Party

Sometimes you will need a third party organization like a collection agency or lawyer’s office to create urgency and get your customer to pay. If your customer continually breaks promises and deadlines, don’t hold the file to long. Sometimes, it’s best to escalate to the next level.

If you need any help with your past due accounts, feel free to touch base.

About the Author Ken Matthews

Ken Matthews is the VP of Collections at Peter Stephan Law Firm

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