Overcoming the credit control phone fear is no mean feat. The last thing you want to be doing is calling up strangers and asking them for money, knowing full well that your voice on the other end of the line is probably the last one they want to hear. It’s awkward, it’s stressful, and it makes you feel so far out of your comfort zone that you’re not sure you’ll ever be comfortable again.
We get it. Collection phone calls are likely the bane of your existence. And, if that’s the case, you probably avoid making them at all costs. While this may seem like the better idea at the time, avoiding making calls to obtain payments can lead to issues like aged debt later on down the line.
So, instead of burying your head in the sand, it’s time to overcome your credit control phone fear with our easy-to-implement credit control tips and tricks.
Be as Prepared as Possible
One thing that may put you off making a credit control phone call is the fear of confrontation, embarrassment or failure. You’re aware that the conversation may be awkward, and you also know that the customer you’re calling may be frustrated by the fact that you’re chasing them for money. Knowing that this may not be a pleasant phone call can leave you feeling nervous, and the more anxious you are, the less likely the phone call is to be effective.
Like anything that may make you feel apprehensive, the best way to combat it is to be prepared. Instead of picking up the phone and winging it, try writing yourself a script.
Jot down precisely what you need to say in the order you want to say it. Rehearse it a few times in your head and use it as a prompt when you make the call. This removes the pressure of remembering the right things to say, leaving you feeling more confident and more able to focus on the customer’s responses. You also won’t miss out any crucial details that might lead to misunderstandings later on down the line.
Being 100% prepared before making your phone calls is a great way to increase the chances of obtaining the desired outcome of the call itself, and it also serves to knock that phone fear down a notch or two.
Know how to Handle Excuses
Excuses are common during credit control calls, and if you’re not sure how to handle them, it can impact the effectiveness of the call overall. In turn, if the calls you’re making are not having the desired effect, you may feel even more reluctant to make them in the first place.
To avoid being put off by consistent excuses, it’s a good idea to have a few rebuttals in your pocket that you can utilise if necessary. For example, if a customer you’re chasing says they’re having trouble with their cash flow currently, offer them a solution. You could suggest that a partial payment is made or offer to set up a payment plan that they can afford. This shuts down the excuse and encourages the customer to at least contribute something towards the money that they owe.
It may not be the perfect outcome, but it’s far better than nothing at all.
Get your Facts Right
A successful phone call is all about confidence. If you’re able to sound certain and authoritative when calling late payers, they’ll be more likely to take the call seriously.
One of the best ways to increase feelings of confidence when making credit control phone calls is to familiarise yourself with the facts. Before you call, spend a few minutes reviewing the details of the case. Ensure you’ve got any invoice information to hand, as well as missed payment dates, so that you can provide the customer with accurate information instantly. If you’re armed with the facts from the get-go, there’s far less room for error throughout the rest of the call.
Confirm before you Conclude
The best outcome for a credit control phone call is commitment from the customer. Leaving the call open-ended gives the customer further opportunity to avoid payment in the future. Instead, summarise the contents of your conversation at the end of the call and reinforce any commitments they have made.
This way, both parties will have a clear understanding of what’s been decided and the next appropriate steps to take. To confirm further, you can follow this up in an email – this can be used as a reference if issues arise later on down the line.
If you end the phone call on a positive note with a clear understanding of the outcome, you’ll feel much more confident about calling in the future.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Even if you’ve implemented the above tips, credit control phone calls probably still won’t be on your ‘favourite things to do’ list. They don’t always go to plan, and you may still have feelings of uncertainty associated with them.
If you want to avoid making them altogether, investing in a Virtual Assistant who specialises in credit control might benefit you. They’ll have all the necessary skills and experience to ensure each credit control call is a success, and they’ll be able to make a significant difference to the effectiveness of your credit control system overall.
Here at The Edwards Company, our credit control specialists work with businesses locally in the West Midlands and across the UK to reduce their aged debt and keep cash flow looking as positive as possible.
If you’re struggling to overcome the credit control phone fear or you simply haven’t got enough time to implement an effective credit control process, please do not hesitate to get in touch – we’re looking forward to supporting your business.