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Sales Focused Bill Collections Improve Profitability


{#/pub/images/SalesFocusedBillCollectionsImproveProfitability.jpg}Barry had been diligently chipping away at his list of suspended customer accounts.  Management wanted him to keep his over 60-day numbers below 3% and month after month he hovered right at 2.9%. He was proud of that.  He had figured out that if he collected on just 7 accounts a day he would meet his numbers.  The last batch of robo calls generated a lot of calls from customers wanting to pay their bills so he was well ahead of his goal already and it was only noon.  He decided to let his calls for the day go to voicemail because, quite honestly, he didn’t feel like listening to those dead beats anymore.  Instead, he went to lunch.


There are some stereo-types regarding bill collectors that have shaped not only customer relations, but expectations management has of a collector. Your company needs to take the role of the collector from the back room to the forefront with two goals that are sure to positively impact your profitability- resuming a positive relationship with your customers and lowering the amount of uncollected receivables.

Whether you have an actual collections department or you have other office staff fill this role, there are some great practices to begin immediately.


Presenting a Positive and Professional Image

  1. The way a collector answers the phone matters and it needs to be in step with the way customer service and sales answer their phones.  This is not only a part of company branding, but it is a smart business practice, too.  You need to give an immediate impression of professionalism and friendliness since one of your goals is to resume a positive relationship with this customer. Thank you for calling ____, this is Barry in Accounts Receivable, how may I help you?  

  2. When making outbound calls, begin with an upbeat voice and introduce yourself properly.  Your introduction should include your name, the company name and the reason for the call.  Strive to address your customer by proper name to be respectful, too. Good morning, Mr. Smith!  This is Barry with ____ and I would like to work with you to restart your service.

  3. Your voice mail message is important.  It must include your name, your department, the date and an idea of your schedule so that your customer knows what to expect or when to call backThis is Barry in Accounts Receivable and this message is for December 16th.  I will be unavailable between 10 and 11:30, and I will do my best to return your call within 2 hours.  If you need immediate help, please press zero and ask for Mary.


Proper Assessment

As a collector you often times play the role of an investigator in that you want to flush out alternate phone numbers, e-mail address and billing information to use if you need to pursue payment.  That means you need a subtle change from reading a phone number you have on the account to asking, “May I have your phone number?”    Be sure to ask, “May I have your name please?”, and check to see that you are speaking to an authorized person regarding the details of the account.  Asking “Is this Mr. Smith? opens the door for an impostor.


Collecting the Money

Just as someone selling a service needs to ask for the sale a collector needs to have a strategy to ask for the money and overcome an excuse from a customer.  The most effective strategy begins by confidently asking for full payment.  If your customer can’t pay in full then the goal is to receive partial payment with the last option being to schedule a follow-up conversation.  It’s a 1-2-3 punch.  Collectors need to have a higher goal than staying within minimum expectations for number of calls made or dollars collected.

How can you prevent customer delinquencies?  Promote your on-line billing and payment option to everyone you talk with.



Consider a secret shopper or call monitoring program for your collectors.  I recently conducted such a campaign for a customer and the results were eye opening.  My customer was horrified to find out that customers calling to resolve the bad debt could not get through.  In some cases we reached voice mail a dozen times before the phone was finally answered.  Collectors did not ask for the money 85% of the time.  It was the customer who was trying to clear up the problem.  The majority of collectors didn’t bother to update address and phone number information and only 50% even asked the person’s name.  Don’t be so sure that this isn’t happening when you aren’t looking. 

Remember that not everyone is a deadbeat.  Your customers are real people who may be in the midst of some tough life issues.  Having the right attitude from the start and a game plan to collect is a step in the right direction.



{#/pub/images/LoriMiller.jpg}Written by Lori Miller, Nationally known speaker, author and President of Tooty Inc. Known as “the queen of customer service,” Lori helps companies increase employee morale and bottom line results while improving customer satisfaction. Leaders of some of the world’s largest companies rely on Lori to provide solutions to some of the toughest customer service and employee issues. For over 25 years, clients have worked with Lori’s company to evaluate, train, monitor and mentor their call center, customer service and sales departments to create custom scripts, training and strategies that change employee behavior, reduce turnover and boost customer satisfaction. Lori is a member of the National Speakers Association and a Board Member of the National Speakers Association-Illinois Chapter. Lori is a contributing author of Mastering the Art of Success, which was published in 2011 and Concrete Jungle,  published in 2012.


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