Improve Office Procedures, Efficiencies and Skills
You cannot expect to successfully collect customer debt, if you or your employees lack skills and training, or you are unaware of the proper procedures. I have listed of common office inefficiencies affecting the successful running of many small and even medium size businesses. I am sure you can think of many more but these affect the collection of customer payments.
Poor telephone collection skills
Poor telephone skills can be a big problem, and some business owners are too embarrassed to ask for money. Hiring an inexperienced employee who has no training in telephone skills, or people negotiation skills, to phone customers for outstanding invoices, is not going to improve collection rates. A skilled accounts payable person in your customer’s office, is probably only going to be amused by the employee’s ineptitude and probably not respond to their requests for immediate payment; and it will not do the suppliers credibility any good either.
Employees who have the task of phoning for outstanding payments should be trained in debt collection and customer service skills. The Biz Skills online lecture courses have a phone script with six basic questions and other follow-on questions to ensure the customer cannot avoid giving a good reason why the business cannot be paid.
Poor interpersonal and collection skills leading to customers being antagonised.
The customer may have a complaint or they may have cash flow difficulties. You will get a better result if the customer is dealt with in a professional manner. Check with the ACCC Debt Collection guidelines and Consumer guidelines on dealing with customers as you or your staff may infringement some of the rules and the result may a complaint to the department and a penalty to you. There are links to these documents on the Biz Skills website under ‘courses/resources’.
Disorganised, incomplete and out-of-date files and records
It is important to keep records up to date constantly, such as invoicing, credit notes, payments, customer details and correct age of debt. It can be awkward when a customer phones you to pay their account, and you cannot give them the correct current balance because transactions are missing.
Not having one person in your business managing your debtor ledger.
Passing the debtor’s ledger around to anyone who has time to make phone calls has no stability, creates an untidy ledger consistency and your debt will grow.
You need a designated person to manage the ledger and all its activities so there is consistency and control. Many businesses do not place debt collection high on their priorities. The sales may be high but the profit and cash receivables may not be because you are writing off unpaid sales. What is the point of making sale that has not been paid?
In addition, you need a backup plan. If you have assigned someone to manage your debtor’s ledger you need a backup person for when that person is on leave. The replacement person should be trained to do all that is necessary so there is no break in the management or system.
If you have policies and procedures for customer credit the ledger manager can make sure every adheres to the policies and conduct training sessions if needed. If one person decides to make their own rules there can be consequences. It is important that everyone in business abides by the agreed policies so everyone is on the same page.
Errors in shipping ordered goods.
You should have procedures in place to ensure efficiency Errors in shipping orders happens because a business does not have procedures for the dispatch of goods, or there is poor communication between departments.
Visit the Queensland Government Business website to get advice on good customer service
Biz Skills has a free downloadable assessment tool so the business owner can evaluate their current office system and establish if any improvements can be made.
Biz Skills online lecture courses provide the training to improve the procedures required for any business that gives credit to customers.
Watch a preview of the Effective Debt Collection Strategies or Debtor’s Ledger Management courses. You can also download the details of the course content from the course details pages.