There are many topics and areas to consider when orchestrating an overall process for dealing with your collection accounts and communicating with your debt collection agency effectively. In this article we will explore three of the most important areas.
Most jobs begin and end with teamwork. Why should collections be any different?
An effective debt recovery firm strives to handle your confidential data as securely as you do. Effective recovery is achieved when address, phone number, place of employment and other identifying information is accurate and up-to-date. Additional information that may not be readily usable today under the current regulatory conditions, but which may very well become standard communication methods for the industry in the future, should also be acquired when available. Asking for email addresses and cell phone numbers is pretty standard now-a-days as you need multiple ways to contact your patients and customers and different generations of people have varying contact preferences. So also asking which method of communication they prefer – such as email, cell-phone, SMS text messaging or even instant messaging – can give your organization a leg up when working with your patients in the future and will prepare you and your collection agency to maximize their collection returns by giving it the ability to hit the ground running in the future.
Working as a team with your collection agency is one of the best ways to ensure successful recovery of these past due accounts you place into collections. Here are three things to keep in mind as you begin to work with your debt recovery agency:
- Make sure your collections team knows who you are and what you provide to your customers.
- Share key information regarding the customer that makes it easy for your agency to reach this person as well as the responsible party or guarantor as warranted.
- Let your agency do their job and don’t open the door to a game of “he said, she said, they said” between you, the debtor, and the agency.
Allowing each person to do thier respective job allows this team to land a K-9 unit into enemy territory via parachute!
You should always let your customers know when and why they need to deal with your collection agency. For instance, you may place a notice directly on their patient intake form or their customer file explaining that after thirty days of non-payment that their account will be placed with your collection agency. By doing so, your patients and customers are less likely to be ‘frequent flyers’ because they will realize once their account is placed into collections – it stays with the collection agency until it is paid in full versus running back to you for concessions.
This can be the most difficult part of using a collection agency. You are going to want to cave in to the demands of your patients. But don’t. You chose your agency for a reason and they have perfected the skill of delicately balancing the emotional impact of their collection efforts on your patients with a credible knowledge of their financial situation and ability to pay. Let them do this work for you and insulate your billing department from this advanced process. Always remember – this is why you hired the agency in the first place!
There is one “caveat” to handling the callers directly. Any earnest agency will always recommend taking the payment versus losing the person who doesn’t want to be bothered with another call. If they are offering full payment – excellent! Take it with open arms! If they are offering a partial payment, even if it is less than you would like in a payment arrangement, again, take the payment – but, in this instance, always remind them they must deal with your collections agency on the remaining balance and don’t give them any “wiggle room” to claim otherwise. Be sure to communicate this payment to your collection agency to avoid any discrepancy between your records and the patient’s expectations.
Next month we will dive into debtor calls in more detail by examining how to handle an irate caller and not lose your cool in the process.
All hands on deck! Navigation, survival, and effort are the name of the game for this team!
Four Tips That Will Ensure You Maximize Your Overall Collection Efforts:
- Trying to handle debtor calls in-house causes confusion with all parties involved. How does your collection agency know if the patient is telling the truth without verifying each situation? This takes time and can be costly for you, your patient, and the agency. You can always refer your customers back to the collection agency once the account has been placed to avoid this misstep.
- Do not indulge your debtors. Patients will ignore the agency’s calls and letters – another unnecessary cost – because you are willing to listen to their story, again and again. Don’t let this happen because your agency will lose a great deal of leverage when it does.
- Allow your agency to handle any negotiations with patients. Your agency’s staff is trained to negotiate terms that will benefit your organization with higher payments and shorter term repayment plans. Your agency also has systems and analytics in place to help determine what is suitable for that person’s repayment plan. These tools will almost always go above and beyond the tools your organization has in place for billing. This is why you hired them. It’s a skilled job. Let them do their work and you will reap the benefits every time.
- Once a patient’s account is sent to your collection agency, do not allow the them to spin your wheels. If you do, they will forgo paying their bill because they know they can simply call to set up a smaller payment plan with you. Do not let this happen.
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