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Tracking Down Past Due Invoices: Improve Your Collection Calls to Get Paid Faster


When you have sent your customer invoice after invoice and they have yet to return with their payment, the most effective step can be reaching out to that customer by telephone. Speaking with the customer, letting them understand your position and attempting to learn more about their’s is a great way to resolve the problem. However, when you make the call for payment, approach it with caution and awareness to make sure you have the most effective conversation possible.

Call for Payment: Improving Collection Calls to Get Paid Faster

1. Instill a sense of urgency

First and foremost, be aware of your body language. Stand up while making the calls. Doing so helps your voice come across more authoritative and will assist you in getting the customer to feel the sense of urgency. If you give a customer more time to pay, they’ll take it. You have to make sure they understand the immediacy. Using the personal interaction of a telephone and reiterating the importance of the payment, work to get a guarantee from them. It’s wise to follow up that call for payment with an email confirming their promise, so they again can see you are serious about getting paid.

2. Remain professional at all times

Although you never want to lose the personal touch you have with customers, when you make the call for payment, it is important to keep a professional tone so they understand how serious you are. Keeping this unwavering professional persistence while collecting debt will keep customers from taking advantage of you, and turning this professional manner into a personal one.

3. Listen, before anything else

No explanation is necessary for the debtor to know WHY he needs to pay. However, there is a reason he is not and that’s what you need to find out. Showing the customer you care will make a huge impression and motivate them to approach the relationship with awareness. You move up their list by being open to listening. After hearing their reasons, evaluate and see if there is some sort of agreement you can reach with the customer that both helps you get paid and helps the customer in their situation.

4. Absolutely NO Arguing

Your customer will come up with excuses about your own actions (like they never received an invoice). However, you can not react to these statements, and you must never dispute. Straining the conversation will only divert you from your goal: collecting the debt. Listen to the customer’s excuse and provide a solution. Debating the past isn’t going to get you paid any faster.

5. Ask, don’t tell

When a customer is providing reasons for their late payment, always use a question as a rebuttal. As relayed in #4, arguing isn’t a solution but asking a question is a sure-fire way to help solve a problem. For example, if a customer claims they never received the invoice you mailed, respond “Is your address…?”. This keeps you from accusing the customer, and also helps solve an issue if, perhaps, the customer really never received the wrongly addressed invoice.

6. Word your questions with intention

If questions are your ammo in the call for payment, then be prepared to employ questions that will produce the most productive answers. Your questions must always be framed to create immediacy. Use your questions to reveal the consequences of your customer not paying. It’s also a great way to get customers to verify that they will be paying. You remind and reaffirm their obligation and confirm they know they must resolve the issue.

When your customer hasn’t responded to your invoices, pick up the phone and call. By approaching the call with care and keeping your goal in mind, it will instill a sense of urgency to your customer and allow them to verbally commit to their promise of payment. Customers will see you’re serious about collecting debt when they hear from you personally.

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