debt recovery and people skills

Why Debt Recovery Demands Essential People Skills

Posted on 26th October 2018 by

Perhaps the most enduring myth surrounding commercial debt recovery is that it is the sole preserve of hard, unyielding types.

This remains the case even where the blunt instrument is administrative rather than physical.

While it is undeniable that debt recovery sometimes gets a bad press, it is also a crucial means for businesses to recover their debts and survive. To do this requires a measured, strategic approach.

Here, Paul Daine of Premium Collections explains how effective debt recovery professionals exercise superior people skills to achieve the best results.

debt recovery good practices

Debt Recovery – Good Practice

“Chasing debt should not involve harassment. At all times, the approach must be both reasonable and proportionate. This means following protocols and procedures.”

The emphasis is not on confrontation. Rather, it is about listening and empathising.

“There is a strong element of negotiation, and of working with the debtor, rather than against them.”

Sensitive debt recovery is not an unlikely combination. As Paul points out, the debtor may already feel awkward, embarrassed and defensive.

“You must be aware of how you can come across to the debtor. Being brashly confident may translate, in their eyes, to being confrontational. Instead, a little empathy goes a long way.

Hand in hand with this is the ability to listen well.

“This is number one on the list of debt recovery qualities. If a business is in debt, there is a reason why. Regardless of how credible this reason may turn out to be, first off you need to listen to everything they say. Once you have the story, you can begin to weigh up the issues, and your next actions.”

discussion with client

Consistency and Composure

When the pressure is on, it is necessary to keep a cool head. Because negotiation is so important, it is vital to be methodical and consistent.

Just as there is a risk that debtors may feel victimised, so recovery agents can face pressures that leave them feeling rattled. Taking the time to consider your tone and delivery is therefore essential.

“Yes, you may hear a lot of excuses, or claims about forthcoming payments that don’t stack up, but all the time maintain your composure. Speak clearly and calmly. Be firm, be assertive, but don’t succumb to aggression.”

It is also important to know when your time is ceasing to be effective. If a call faces a solid wall of resistance, end it, and rethink the strategy.

business finances

The Bigger Picture

Working in commercial debt recovery means understanding where late payments fit in to the bigger picture.

“You cannot be effective without first gaining a solid understanding of what you’re dealing with. Late payment or bad debt have reasons. Understand these and you’re operating with knowledge on your side.”

  • What has led to this point?
  • What is the debtor’s credit rating?
  • What has communication been like up to this point?

This understanding also helps with ensuring that everything procedural you carry out compliant.

“The more you know about a specific situation, the clearer your options become, including what measures are available to you at any given time.”


What Makes for Effective Debt Recovery?

“It’s about people skills and having the kind of inner assurance to keep at it, firmly but calmly.”

Far from simply being a last resort, commercial debt recovery is a process essential to an economy where credit is so prominent. Therefore, it follows that the people working in it are themselves playing a pivotal role.

business hand shake

Related Articles:

Cash flow, credit management and getting paid on time

Why Is Cash Flow a Pressing Problem for SMEs?

Exporters, Is Your Cash Trapped Overseas?



The information in this article has not been written by Caunce O’Hara & Co Ltd or any of Caunce O’Hara’s employees. None of the opinions or views contained within this article are Caunce O’Hara’s nor do we accept responsibility for any financial advice given within the article.

Caunce O’Hara & Co Ltd do not provide Life Insurance policies nor advice regarding Life Insurance or accounting and bookkeeping.