Telephone Collections: When is the Most Effective Time?

Collections Training Resource
January 2, 2013 — 1,274 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Telephone collections are initiated by a debt collector in order to remind a debtor to clear his or her pending dues at the earliest time possible. Debtors are first informed of their dues through a written notice. A telephonic conversation is initiated only if the debtor has failed to respond to the notice or pay his/her debt within 5 days of receiving the notice. Telephone collection times are crucial for ensuring timely clearance of the debt as calling at an inappropriate time can make the debtor uncooperative or even hostile, delaying debt clearance.

When to call a debtor: The cardinal rules                                                                                                          

Written notices almost always fail to elicit timely responses. If the debtor does not respond or make the payment within 5 days of receiving the notice, a call is placed to the debtor by the collector. The first call sets the tone for future communication and an effective call can help speed up the payment process. The timing of this call is therefore, crucial and requires proper planning. Here are a few tips to keep in mind regarding the timing of the first and subsequent debt collection calls.

  1. Calls must ideally be made after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m. Calling a debtor early in the morning or late at night may not only seem unprofessional, but may also end up making the debtor more uncooperative.
  2. When calling for the first time, make sure that you ask the debtor if it is the ideal time to discuss payment of the debt. If not, then be sure to ask them to mention the right time of the day as per their work/personal schedule.
  3. Telephone collections should be attempted on weekdays as much as possible. Most people consider it rude and unprofessional to discuss business/finances on weekends.
  4. Collection calls should ideally not be made on religious holidays. This too, leaves a bad impression on debtors, as people like to spend time with family and friends on holidays. Besides, calling to collect a debt on a religious holiday can hurt the religious sentiments of the debtor. This could make them hostile and could even lead to a formal complaint regarding the inappropriateness of the timing. It could potentially damage the creditor’s relationship with the customer for good.

The Importance of Calling at the Right Time

Debt collection can be counted among the most challenging professions of all time. Debt collectors, due to no fault of their own, are probably some of the most disliked professionals. It can be challenging at times to get the job done without facing criticism or unpleasantness from debtors. But no matter how uncooperative a debtor may be, it is the debt collector’s duty to collect the debt and ensure that all dues are cleared in full.

In this respect, calling the debtor at the right time is crucial to ensure that the debt is collected without any unpleasantness. Making the first call at an appropriate hour of a weekday makes it much easier to have a professional and effective conversation. In addition, asking the debtor to recommend an appropriate time to call him or her and adhering to it helps maintain a professional and cordial relationship with the debtor. After all, at the end of the day, every debtor is a customer of the creditor and no good can come out of severing ties with debtors or creating a hostile environment. A professional and polite call made at the right time can help collect a debt and maintain a good relationship at the same time.

Collections Training Resource