Advice from Pro to Pro

Collectors keep companies financially healthy

The collection agent sometimes conveys a negative and distorted view. Yet, it is a key player when it comes to preserving the financial health of companies.

Cash flow problems highlight the importance of processes related to accounts receivable management. This is even more the case in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Through each of its missions, the collection agent helps companies improve their cash flow, support their growth while preserving their commercial relationships.

Discover in this article another look at the collection agent. What is its role, what are its missions and key competencies?

What are the duties of the collection agent?

The collection agent is a key element in the customer relationship. Acting under a mandate issued to the collection company that employs him, he is an indispensable agent who :

  • Analyzes the creditor’s customer portfolio: collects qualitative information, evaluates the financial health and solvency of the debtors, takes into account their difficulties and studies their ability to pay in order to determine the best strategy to collect the debts.
  • Identifies commercial disputes: He identifies the reasons for the delay and makes every effort to obtain prompt payment. He is a good communicator who breaks down complex situations (refusal to pay, payment incident, etc.)
  • Negotiates the payment: if the debtor is in a delicate situation (over-indebtedness, little income…), he finds an arrangement adapted to the possibilities of the interlocutor. For example, it can propose a payment schedule.
  • Collects unpaid invoices: the collector sends letters of formal notice to pay, makes telephone or e-mail reminders. It always favors amicable recourse and limits legal recovery to a minimum.

The debt collector must be concerned with preserving the customer relationship. When taking action to collect an unpaid invoice, the debtor’s susceptibility must be taken into account. He must not forget that he is the guarantor of the quality of the commercial relationship between the creditor and his client-debtor.

The collection agent: a range of key skills

The development of AI, the automation of work and the context of uncertainty that we are experiencing because of the economic crisis require the collection agent to know how to mix technical and behavioral skills, but also more atypical skills.

The technical skills of the collection agent

To meet the expected performance, it must:

  • Master and respect the legislation in force and know how to implement the different legal procedures legal procedures (precautionary measures, payment orders, summons on the merits, provisional injunction…).
  • Have a high degree of technicality when analyzing the situation, the nature of the debt and the associated contractual documents (GTC, purchase order, estimate…). Otherwise, it will be difficult to identify the levers of action that will enable it to succeed in recovering the unpaid amount quickly.
  • Master the computer tools to:
    • Create and manage out-of-court dunning scenarios (according to the nature of the debt, the profile of the debtors, their payment behaviour and the risks)
    • Implement dynamic agendas that take into account the issues on each file to be recovered.
  • Master the financial databases within the framework of the management of commercial receivables: he/she knows how to quickly identify the events of the debtor company(transfers/cessations, collective procedures, change of head office…) and to adapt his/her actions to the context.

Moreover, he is the guarantor of the confidentiality of the processed data entrusted to him in accordance with the RGPD. Blockchain and data security hold no secrets for him.

In addition to the technical and operational aspects, soft skills play a key role in the performance of the collection agent’s duties. More than ever, people are at the heart of our business.

Behavioral skills sought in a collection agent

  • Exemplary ethics and relational quality. Listening, sharing, empathy, interpersonal communication, these are all tools that allow him to “connect” with others. This implies a great knowledge of himself and the differences in psychological profiles that he may encounter. So, here are the 6 commandments that guide him:
    1. Respect and ethics towards debtors,
    2. No value judgment,
    3. Simple and understandable language,
    4. Transparency and accuracy in responding to requests for information on claims,
    5. Mediation as a first line of defence, even in sometimes difficult situations,
    6. Alerting debtors before taking legal action against them,
  • An efficient organization that allows him to manage his time well. He is methodical and organized in his efforts to recover unpaid bills quickly,
  • The sense of results: very committed, he seeks the best solutions to achieve his objectives,
  • A sense of teamwork: he/she shares his/her successes and difficulties with his/her colleagues and managers with a view to continuous improvement. It is well known, “Alone we go faster, but together we go further”.

The atypical skills of the debt collector

It is his own know-how and/or personal skills that set him apart from his counterparts.

This may be:

  • Fluency in several languages: English and other foreign languages are an advantage when it comes to collecting a debt abroad.
  • The ability to learn continuously. In a more complex and uncertain environment, the collection manager must seek to renew his or her skills on a regular basis in order to remain efficient and employable.
  • Agility and adaptability: Today’s successful collector is far from being a simple collector. He is a professional with cross-functional expertise and knowledge who is able to manage change at his level. He has a high tolerance for uncertainty and new ideas, knowledge in several disciplines (communication, project management, quality process, cybersecurity, etc…). Finally, he knows how to integrate change continuously.
  • Creativity and innovation: what worked before the Covid-19 crisis may no longer work or may not work as well. In order to quickly collect a debt, the debt collector must be able to bring a fresh perspective to new issues. Business failures will increase, so more creativity and persuasiveness will be needed to generate a quick settlement.

Collection officer : A job in tension

The debt collection is an unavoidable and delicate operation in the management of accounts receivable. With the crisis, payment delays and the number of unpaid invoices are increasing sharply. Therefore, it is crucial for any company to have the best talent in this field.

Many needs, few candidates that stand out

If the need is growing, few profiles are really competent to convince debtors to settle.

And in addition to being rare, the skill requires a certain cost.

BPO: a solution to accelerate collections

When a company cannot handle debt collection in-house, it can turn to a debt collection company that will handle this task for it.

We offer you the opportunity to work with the best debt collectors. For more information, contact us directly through our contact form.