Debt Collection has existed for as long as there has been debt. It is older than the history of money itself, as it was part of the early bartering-based systems.
While debt collection has certainly been a profitable business model since ancient times, it has always had the great challenge, filled with unpredictability, of having to deal with people.
That’s why here we give you an updated list of the 7 tips you need to know if you want to succeed in your future debt collection endeavors.
(The last three are key)
7 Tips for debt collection in 2023
1. Crystal-Clear Communication
Debt can be scary and confusing for many people. It’s crucial that you take the time to help your clients understand how everything works, without leaving any detail out, setting clear expectations and responsibilities from both parties.
It is easier to collect a debt based on communication and trust than it is on fear and confusion.
This brings us to the next tip:
2. You are the solution, not the problem
The type of bond you build with the customer is key to determining how easy or difficult it’ll be to collect their debt.
The saying “you get more flies with honey than with vinegar” does a great job explaining what your place should be in your interactions with your debtors. Try to put yourself as the solution to their problem. Show them that you understand and empathize with their situation and that you are a part of their team, more than being a constant threat.
Being the bad guy has been used too much, and is clearly not the most efficient way to collect debt nowadays.
This also doesn’t mean that you have to let them roll over you.
3. Persistent, but professional
There's a point where persistence mixes up with unprofessional behaviors and turns into harassment. You don’t want that.
If you are too aggressive in your collections efforts, the debtor may feel intimidated and be less likely to work with you to resolve the debt. They will start refusing to engage with you, not picking up the phone, or responding to your messages.
Being violent in your collection attempts could damage your reputation, and crossing the line into harassment might bring legal problems as you could be violating state and federal laws. This could result in penalties for your company and will make it more difficult to collect debts from other individuals in the future.
That’s why you should:
4. Always play by the rules
While debtors have legal responsibilities toward your debt collection agency, you also have some towards them.
It’s key to stay current on industry news and developments to ensure you are using best practices in your debt collection efforts. Here are some links that might help you with that: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Association of Attorney’s General
At the same time, review your policies and procedures regularly to ensure they are still effective and compliant with changing regulations.
5. Keep track of everything
Keep track of every lending, debtor, payment, and communication instance (phone calls included).
Having a database with all transactions keeps your debt collection activities organized and your team up to date. This will mean you waste less time and workforce on pointless tasks, and lose fewer debt collection opportunities.
This information is not only critical for organizing your efforts but also for optimizing them. You’ll be able to categorize debtors, understand their customer journey, and identify crucial moments where certain actions need to be taken in order to effectively collect a debt.
You’ll have a historical view that will let you know what works and what doesn’t for the different types of debtors. Channels, approaches, frequency of communication…
This database is what you need in order to adjust and automate your debt collection strategies to reach true efficiency.
6. Truly Leverage digital
Sending some emails now and then with poorly planned follow-ups is not really taking advantage of all that digital channels have to offer.
SMS, social media, and other digital communication platforms let you have direct, one-on-one conversations with your clients where they actually are, without wasting as much time and resources as traditional channels do.
At the same time, you’ll be able to automate repetitive tasks like sending daily messages or notifications to not only free up time for more complex collections activities but also to optimize your debt recovery processes.
This doesn’t mean you only need to focus on digital. There are people for whom only a phone call does the trick. The key is on having an omnichannel approach to debt collection, where you develop a system that lets you operate on all existing channels, to access personalized, cross-platform conversations with your debtors, making your collection efforts as efficient as possible.
7. Never lose the focus
Running a Debt Collection Agency involves viewing many tough situations that people face on a daily basis. It is essential that you never lose sensitivity to what these people are experiencing, so as not to lose the human side of the business.
At the end of the day, you are running a company that needs to be profitable, but never forget they are more than just numbers.
Working so closely with people will always bring the factor of uncertainty to the table. You’ll encounter debtors who always pay what they have to and when they have to without any big effort from your side, debtors that are impossible to deal with, and everything that is in between.
Your focus needs to be on creating a system with clear communication, empathy, and professionalism to build trust with your clients, that is also based on hard data to allow you to control as many factors as possible to lower the unpredictability, and leverage digital to automate and optimize your collection efforts to be as profitable as possible.