Today, many different communication methods are available, from text messages to video calls, email or call, and more.
And whether in debt collection, sales calls, or even call-back requests, we all have a preference on how we would like a third party to contact us.
Companies will also have a preference on how they communicate with their customers too, and within collection departments, when it comes to chasing late payment of commercial debts and overdue invoices, specific methods of communication will be built into operating processes and procedures.
In debt collection, communicating with debtors in a way they feel comfortable with is the best way to move late payments forward (visit our debt recovery page to find out more about our collection services).
Both email and phone calls have their benefits in debt collection. However, to be successful, the trick is finding the balance between the two and using the right communication tool at the right time.
Email vs. phone call
Credit collection through calling
Picking up the phone and calling is a quick and effective way to reach customers. It can also be a more personal approach, helping you build relationships.
Phone calls are also harder to ignore and more difficult for the debtor to make excuses. However, you need to prepare for the conversation (and this is where a professional debt collector can help), ensuring that you avoid saying something you shouldn’t, promising something you can’t deliver, and accepting excuses with no guarantee of payment.
Building a relationship with the customer is key and shows a commitment to good customer service.
Phone calls allow you to speak directly to the person you need to, i.e., who authorises payments.
At Direct Route, phone calls are ideal for all non-routine situations, where you will find that people will open up and talk to you more, providing you with an insight into their position and reasons for the late payment. Understanding their situation and seeing things from a different perspective can make it easier to find a solution that works best for both parties over the phone rather than sending emails back and forth.
Debt collection through email
Email is quick and effective. You can attach outstanding invoices and further information to emails, so your customer knows exactly what the email concerns.
In addition, we understand that often, invoices can be missed or forgotten, so email in this capacity is a great option, acting as a gentle reminder that payment is due.
Some companies don’t always have open phone lines 24/7, making email your only option, and email can also be essential if you have international customers working in different time zones.
However, emails are easy for people to ignore, deploy a series of excuses, and avoid confrontation.
Emails can also be lost amongst a ton of other emails, all waiting to be acknowledged, often left until the end of the day when people feel they have more free time to read them properly.
Emails can also sit with one person within an organisation for some time before being passed to accounting or the person with authority – this is when a phone call can be more effective.
Process to ensure a successful collection
As soon as an invoice becomes overdue for new customers, call them. Calling a customer is the quickest way to gather further information and speak to who you need. During this phone call, you can also ask them about their preference for future communications.
For regular customers who usually pay on time every time, it is acceptable to send a short reminder email with the invoice re-attached – paying particular attention to the due date and following this up with a quick phone call to check the information has been received.
If there is no response to the email and payment has still not been made – call them.
Like any process, you must include specific timescales for each step and stage of credit control, informing the debtor of the `next steps` if invoices remain unpaid. For example, when do you issue a formal debt collection letter, at what stage is the outstanding debt passed to a professional collection agency, etc.?
Late payments of commercial debt
The more detailed your collection process is, and by using a combination of both email and phone calls, the more chance of success you will have.
Working with a professional and experienced debt collection agency can also help.
Taking away the stress that chasing outstanding payments can bring, at Direct Route, we have robust collection processes in place that use both email and phone calls to ensure a successful outcome.