Friendly vs Firm: Finding the Right Balance in Veterinary Collections

in Blog | 2 comments

Picture of CollectorThere was recently an article on the front page of titled, Debt Collectors Are Trying a New Strategy to Win People Over: Friendliness. In the article, the author seems to believe that the idea of treating consumers decently is a recent and foreign concept in the collections industry.

“…some debt collectors have been trying out a new, somewhat unorthodox strategy to improve business (and their image) — good old-fashioned customer service… there is movement among old guard players as well as new entrants to refashion debt collection as friendlier work.”

The reality however, is that treating consumers with dignity and respect is not a new concept for many leaders in the collection industry. Plenty of collection agencies, like IC System, have always believed in a consumer-friendly approach to debt recovery and have understood that getting someone to pay an overdue bill requires empathy and oftentimes a helping hand.

The article also describes a collection agency that is taking the friendly approach even farther in how consumers are communicated with. The agency sends emails to customers that are “often casual in tone, even humorous in some cases; for younger debtors, for example…[the agency] may send them an email telling them that their debt is depressed that it hasn’t been paid and has been binge-eating chocolate and watching rom-coms all night.”

But a consumer-friendly approach to collections (especially veterinary collections) means more than simply being nice on the phone or sending a funny email. Customer-friendly veterinary collections means offering your clients payment plans when they can’t pay a bill in full, or letting them pay online at their own convenience (as just two examples). Here are some other good examples of friendly collection tactics:

  • Allow your veterinary customers to pay in installments, partial payments, or deferred payments when they can’t afford to pay all at once.
  • Offer a small percentage off the customer’s bill when payment is received before a bill comes due.
  • Provide an online payment portal where customers can pay for their pet care when they want, where they want, and how they want.

main-imageThe key is to find a mutually agreeable payment agreement or payment option that works for both you and your customers. You also need to strike the proper balance between being too friendly or passive in your collection efforts and being too aggressive. We feel the collection agency referenced above (that sends the humorous collection emails) may be siding slightly too far on the passive side. While humor and a friendly tone can be utilized both in emails and collection calls, a clear, firm message must also be conveyed to the delinquent customer. After all, the point of the call or email is to get the person to pay a bill, which often requires friendly yet firm approach.

So work to strike that perfect balance in your veterinary collection efforts and get paid for the superior pet care you provide. For more information on customer-friendly veterinary collection strategies check out the rest of our blog and our collection of white papers!

YOUR TURN: Have you found that a friendly approach is the key to getting paid for your veterinary services? How do you strike that perfect balance between being too passive and too aggressive? We’d love to hear from you!


No Legal Advice Intended:  This communication is for informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I.C. System, Inc.  You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal issues.



  1. Since most all our debt issues arise from communication problems it is sometimes difficult to turn that dynamic around by the time that you get to the collection phase, but it is vitally important. Any chance of payment vanishes once the client, for whatever reason, decides that they cannot and will not communicate with you any more. We try (emphasise “try”) to make telephone or face to face contact to discuss the debt, allow the client plenty of opportunity to discuss our care and empathise with their concerns but firmly reiterate that since service was requested and estimates/quotations accepted payment WILL BE required and we can then talk compassionately about their options.
    And the world is full of unicorns and rainbows.
    But we try!


    September 16, 2014

  2. Lisa- Thank you for your response! It sounds like you are really trying hard to maintain the relationship with the customer! Keep up the good work effort!

    Thomas Mayfield

    September 16, 2014

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