For practicing international debt collection, communication is essential. Communication in international debt recovery will at all times be based on a certain context which may consist of a physical distance between creditor / collector and debtor, cultural differences, other languages spoken, and several time zones involved.
We assume that while collecting an international debt you will be confronted with a physical distance between creditor and collector on one end, and the debtor on the other (and sometimes, perhaps often, there is also a physical distance between creditor and collector, but that is for another post); the debtor is based in another country. This requires practically that you understand how to communicate abroad, which starts as simple as dialing internationally when you make a phone call (which can sometimes be a challenge because specific indications for calling cell phones or remote areas, for example), to understanding the location your debtor is in and the economic, social or even political environment.
International debt recovery means you should understand the cultural differences that may exist between creditor, collector and debtor and which may affect the collection process. Cultural differences include business ethics, manners, and local rhythm of life, amongst others. In my view it is extremely important to understand culture in order to effectively collect debt internationally, to negotiate or mediate successfully, and also to properly advise your client.
For recovering a debt internationally, it is essential to speak your languages. English might be for many the international business language but often people do not speak English, or at least not sufficiently enough, for you to be able to properly collect a debt, understand the debtor’s circumstances, negotiate or mediate. If I look at Latin America, in most of the countries you will not get very far if you do not speak Spanish, or Portuguese in Brazil.
Dealing with different time zones is an integral part of the context of international debt recovery. The difference can be a couple of hours up to an entire day. To effectively collect a debt internationally you have to be aware of the differences in time zones but also local business hours, and even take into account times people usually start to work, take a lunch break, have a siesta, as well as national and local holidays.
In order to effectively collect a debt internationally, communication is essential. In this post we discussed what I see as the four basic assumptions with respect to the context for communication in international debt recovery: The physical distance, cultural differences, another language spoken, and different time zones between creditor / collector and debtor.
If you are interested in learning more on the subject of communication in international debt recovery, or international debt recovery in general, or specifically debt collection in Latin America & the Caribbean, please connect with Cobroamericas on Linked-In or follow us on Twitter.
To participate in the conversation about debt collection in Latin America please join the Linked-In Group Debt Collection Latin America.