Credit control as a customer service function

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Credit control as a customer service function

Every now and then you come across an organisation that’s clearly very customer oriented in many areas but where one part of the business lets them down. One area which people often forget about is that of credit management – the people who send the invoices, collect the money and chase down late payments.

Many would argue that if someone is late paying their bill then they deserve the shouty, grumpy credit controller from hell. Yet, forward thinking companies will view this as an opportunity to continue to offer great customer service. It doesn’t take much and it can even pay dividends, in the form of customers who feel better about your business, are more likely to recommend you and will improve the way they pay in the future.

And it doesn’t take much to improve that function:

  • A little politeness and charm goes a long way when collecting money from people – you won’t necessarily know the reason for the delay, politeness costs nothing and often helps resolve an issue faster.
  • Systems and processes that take the grunt work out of the function – clearly structured invoices, automated invoicing and follow up emails, all save you time and help the customer know where they stand.
  • This frees you up to do the important bit – following up with those that haven’t paid, understanding why not and working out how to help the customer.

Of course in some cases this approach won’t always work and a heavier hand may be called for, but by this point you will be understanding all your customers better and you can then decide whether these are the right kind of customers for you.

If in the unfortunate event, that the customer simply can’t pay and won’t ever be able to pay, then finding that out by having a reasonable conversation will be better for everyone. It will enable you to write down the loss more quickly and enable the customer to move on – let’s face it, they may well be feeling pretty battered and bruised already.

If you have any experiences with credit control letting customer service down in this way, do share in the comments.

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