How To Make A Debt Collection Telephone Call

Making a telephone call to collect a debt can be daunting prospect for many but it is often the most important part of the debt collection process. If it is done well, a telephone call can produce the best debt collection results.

In this article, Guildways provides guidance and tips on how to approach your debt collection telephone calls.

The Initial Introduction

If you were calling for any other reason, introducing yourself wouldn’t pose such a problem; however when it comes to a debt collection call many fear an adverse reaction and wonder how to approach the initial introduction.

Often people receiving a call will feed off your energy. If you are polite and positive when talking to your customers they are likely to react in a similar manner.

Here’s a way you could open the conversation:

“Hi it’s (your name) from (your company), I hope you’re well. I noticed you’re behind with your payment. Was there an issue with the invoice that I might be able to help you with?”

If your call is picked up by reception you are likely to be faced with gatekeeping that prevents you from getting to speak to the right person.
Here’s what we would say if talking to a gatekeeper:

“Hi it’s (your name) from (your company). Is it possible to speak to (name of contact) regarding an invoice please?”

If you use words like ‘unpaid debt’ or ‘late payment’ the person on the other end of the line may not respond to you as well and feel on the defensive from the start of your call.

Let Your Customer Talk And Listen

Your first debt collection call with a customer is your opportunity to remind them of an outstanding invoice and to find out why that is. During this call you should encourage your customer to do the talking while you listen and take notes for your records.

There may be a legitimate reason why an invoice has not been paid. It could be that the customer has not received the invoice. Accordingly, it is important to hear what the customer has to say before making any Judgment.

Confirm Next Steps Before Hanging Up

Prior to ending the call, it is best practice to sum up what you have both discussed. For example it could be:

“Thank you so much talking with me today. For my notes it would be great if I could recap what we’ve discussed. So, unfortunately the payment is late because you missed the payment run but you will put it on this week’s payment run. Have I missed anything?”

It is also important to confirm the next steps or actions to be taken. For example in the above scenario you could ask:

“Please can you email me by (set date) with a remittance confirming that the payment is on this week’s payment run.”

This gives clarity to all parties and should hopefully maximise the chance of being paid and avoid you having to make a further call.

Get It In Writing

If your customer does not dispute the invoice and confirms that payment will be made, try to get this in writing from the debtor. If in the event you have to issue legal proceedings at a later date and they file a defence, this written admission will be extremely helpful evidence which could assist in making a Summary Judgment application.

Even if the debt is disputed, it is important to get the dispute in writing. This ensures that there is no miscommunication and that all issues can be addressed now and avoids further disputes being raised at a later date.

Second Call

Ideally, the first debt collection call will result in payment. Unfortunately it may take a few calls to ensure payment is made. Before making your second call ensure you have your notes to hand from the first call, so that you can follow up on the actions discussed. See if you can secure a card payment from your customer whilst on the call if you have the facility to do so.

If you believe the customer is struggling with cashflow, you may want to offer the opportunity to put forward a payment proposal which involves paying by instalments.


It’s important to keep communications open with your customer. However, if your customer fails to engage with you, it is important that you have the option to escalate the matter to a Debt Collection Agency or specialist Debt Recovery Solicitors.

Guildways are UK & International debt collection specialists with over 25 years experience. If you would like to discuss a debt you have, please feel free to contact us by email [email protected] or by telephone on 03333 409000.

10 Jun 2021