Creating and using effective debt collection scripts can help you work through collection calls more easily and more productively

Ever walk a tightrope? There’s a lot more to it than pure balance. A successful tightrope walker knows how to work with physics by lowering their center of gravity and working with the rope’s rotational tendencies. 

Debt collection is a little like that. A lot of people think you just make calls and demand that people pay their overdue bills. But you, of course, know there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Still, it is tricky, and it can feel like walking a tightrope. That’s why effective debt collection scripts are such a valuable asset to your efforts. 

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effective debt collection scripts

What effective debt collection scripts have in common

Whether you are running a business billing office or a collection call center, to be effective, debt collection scripts need to be part of your strategy. You can always go off-script, but there is some information you can’t forget to include. Similarly, when you have a script that works, it can help everyone to stick with it. 

Commercial and personal bill collecting may have some significant differences, but the most successful approaches all do their best to work with people to solve a problem. There are also several legal regulations to keep in mind, two of which are the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The FDCPA is relatively extensive, but the basics are pretty simple, and not that dissimilar to the TCPA. Don’t call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., don’t engage in harassment, and don’t use false or deceptive information. 

As far as the TCPA is concerned, “the FCC has determined that debt collection calls are not telemarketing calls.” Therefore, you may not be subject to all the regulations put forth by the TCPA. However, it’s always best to check with your lawyer when in doubt. 

Beyond that, it’s critical to maintain a pleasant, professional demeanor at all times. Keep your script positive and helpful. Write down responses or flow charts for some of the most common reasons people give for not making payments. 

Verify all of the information, as well. It’s not unheard of for there to be a discrepancy or mistakes. 

Ask for full or partial payment. It’s often said that the most successful salespeople don’t leave things up to chance; they ask for the sale. The same is true here. And if they can’t make a payment, ask for a commitment of some kind. That commitment could be a future payment or a date for another call. 

Now what, exactly, should you say?

3 Effective debt collection scripts you can use today

As always, adjust these scripts to suit your circumstances. You can also mix them up to create a template for one that works better for your calls.

Script #1: To a consumer for an overdue bill 

Good morning. This is Jon Smith calling from ABC Industries billing department. Am I speaking with Frank Johnson? 

Hi Frank, I’m calling concerning an overdue bill. Can I verify some information with you to make sure I’m speaking to the right person? 

(Once you verify their information, continue with the call. Be aware that state and federal regulations will impact what information you can share and with whom you can share it.)

Frank, I have a bill here for $300.99 that is currently 180 days past due. I know it’s easy to forget about bills, but I’d hate to see this go on your credit report. Our policy is to send bills more than 180 days overdue to a collection agency, but if you can take care of this right now, we won’t need to do that. 

(If they can, great. If not, offer options)

I realize that’s a large sum. But I’d still like to work with you to avoid this being on your credit report. I can offer to split that into three monthly payments of $100.33 each. If you can make the first payment right now, I can set your account up so that it’s no longer delinquent. 

Script #2 to a business for an outstanding balance

Good morning. This is Jon Smith calling from ABC Industries billing department. Am I speaking with Frank Johnson? 

Hi Frank. I’m calling in regards to your last delivery on (specific date). Did the order meet your expectations? 

(Assuming they say it did, you can move on to collections. If the order did not, then that’s a customer service issue that you’ll need to resolve.)

I’m glad to know those products are working out for you, and I also wanted to check in on the invoice for that order. According to our records, we don’t have a payment for that yet. Do you know if that’s been processed? 

(At this point, they will likely tell you that it should have been processed, and they will follow up on it. If this happens with a long-standing customer, that’s probably all it will take. 

The other possibility is that they haven’t gotten to it yet, in which case you could continue by asking them if they’d like you to resend the invoice or you could remind them of your payment terms.)

Script #3 for a second collection attempt to a consumer or business 

Good morning. This is Jon Smith calling from ABC Industries billing department. Am I speaking with Frank Johnson? 

Hi Frank. I’m following up on our call on (date) regarding your account. Unfortunately, we have not yet received your payment. I’d love to bring your account current and can accept a credit card payment over the phone. 

Effective debt collection scripts can be friendly, professional, and flexible while still getting the job done. The goal, of course, is to get paid, and although there are exceptions, most people are more willing to work with someone empathetic and understanding than someone who is aggressive or rude. 

And remember, too, that the great thing about scripts is that you can continually tweak them until you have something that works every time. 

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