When collecting money from delinquent accounts, it is a key principle to preserve goodwill with the customer. We want to raise the money by practicing the three Ps: being professional, personable, and persistent. But at the same time, we also want to maintain a good relationship with our customer. We also want to maintain a good reputation.
Just because some of your clients (clients, patients, members, etc.) have a problem today does not necessarily mean that they will not be good clients in the future. And I think most marketers will tell you that it costs a lot more money to find new customers than it does to keep the ones we already have.
Michael Coleman, author of “The Collection Management Handbook,” says statistically:
If everyone was like the 80% who pay on time, we would never have collection problems. All you have to do with those customers is keep them happy.
And don’t worry about the 2% that it never intends to pay you. Flip them over for collections. Take them to court. But don’t waste your precious time with them. In reality, they are trying to defraud you.
Where we as accounts receivable professionals and people who collect money can really do a good thing is with the 18% in the middle who intend to pay us, but just don’t think they can at this point. But they have a problem and we have to help them solve it.
So if you want to collect much more money faster and at the same time maintain goodwill with your customers, you need to stop thinking of yourself as a collector and start thinking of yourself as a problem solver.
Always use language similar to this with your client: “I know that together we can solve this problem.” With those simple words the debtor no longer thinks of you as a collector. In the eyes of the debtor, you are now a problem solver. And you are working with your debtor on the same side of the table to try to resolve the problem.
That’s what successful accounts receivable professionals do. They work to get their debtors on their side in an effort to solve the problem. And an added benefit may be that instead of having an inactive debtor, you have a customer for life.