The longer an invoice takes to get paid, the more difficult it will be to collect on these accounts. When customers are in the beginning stage of paying their accounts, they typically have more motivation to make the payments. They don’t want to be a bad customer and don’t want to incur any late fees. The longer and longer the invoice goes unpaid, these customers lose their motivation to pay. They have already crossed the no-fly zone and it takes a lot to get them back.
So what do you do if you’re a collector with one of these difficult accounts? They’ve ignored your reminder emails and phone calls, what more do you have in your arsenal to try and get them to pay. These accounts aren’t always a complete loss. With the follow tactics, you can try to get them back and paying on their overdue balance.
HAVE A CONVERSATION
If a customer isn’t paying, you should not jump straight to threats and lawyers. This will only make the situation worse and give the customer even more reason to not work with you. Have a professional conversation with them and ask them why they can’t pay right now. Encourage them to get involved in the conversation by explaining that if you knew more about their situation and why they cannot pay, you can work with them to create a payment schedule that is right for both of you.
LISTEN AND APPRECIATE THEM
As soon as the customer gives you more information as to why they are struggling to pay the debt, thank them for engaging in the conversation with you. Many customers aren’t willing to divulge that information, so to have a customer who is taking the time to talk with you should be appreciated. Additionally, you should recognize their situation. Let them know that you understand why they are struggling to pay and empathize with their struggle.
LEVERAGE YOUR EXPERIENCE
If the customer is not being as forthcoming with information, leverage your experience to try and coax them into having a conversation with you. Use your title in the company such as credit supervisor or manager. Even if you don’t have the title to use, think of all the accounts that you have worked with, let them know that you have experience helping hundreds or thousands of customers just like them to work through these situations and settle on their debt.
Arguing will NEVER get you anywhere with difficult accounts. It usually just makes the customer more hostile and unlikely to pay. Even if the customer continues to have an attitude towards you and says they refuse to pay because your company charges too much, listen and understand the situation. Let them know that yes, sometimes the payments can seem outrageous but you would be happy to make arrangements for a payment plan that seems more reasonable to them.
Even if you have to change the payment plan they are currently on or need to make new arrangements, it’s better than collecting nothing at all. Sometimes having patience and understanding is all a customer needs – and wasn’t expecting. Your kindness will go a long way and help to retain customers, as well.