Three Tips for Collecting From Difficult Customers Faster
Guest post by Ilona McDermott, Accounts Receivable Specialist with Benchling
I started in collections 20 years ago and I’ve worked for global, national and regional organizations and managed teams from five to 32 people. Currently I’m an individual contributor and I oversee most of the collections in my current role at Benchling.
Let Go of Slow, Ineffective Manual AR Processes
When I started, it was spreadsheets and dialing for dollars. The philosophy was to get the customer on the phone, get that immediate answer and use email to follow up. But, it was very difficult to prioritize the work and manage time.
Manual reporting is slow and labor intensive, and it took a lot of effort to identify the most delinquent customers. Too much time was spent generating reports, which didn't leave enough time for effective outreach. The best thing was to let go of the manual approach and let automation take over—and I’ve picked up a few tips along the way to get the most from an automated AR process.
Tip #1: Automate So You Can Focus Time Where It Counts
Quickly identifying customers that need manual intervention is crucial to collecting money fast, and automated A/R tools help me focus my efforts and not waste time. I look at our automated aging reports every day for visibility into where I need to take immediate action.
I also tag invoices in Tesorio as sent to customer, remittance received, payment on the way and use those tags to run reports. It’s immediately clear where I need to make a call. And, I can run those reports in seconds, not hours.
At quarter end, we’re watching cash flow very closely with the finance team and I’m able to rely on Tesorio’s automated forecasting to understand customer payment history and trends. The best part, I’m not wasting time re-running forecast reports to know where we stand versus cash targets because they are always available with real-time data.
Tip #2: Look Beyond Your AP Contact to Collect
I don’t want to spend too much time on non-responders, so after 90 days with no response from the main AP contact, I’ll engage the AE for other contacts. There’s also contact info on LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Google, Facebook, OpenCorporates.com or even through the company’s Contact Us page.
I love the detective work that’s involved. It requires some psychology to get to know your customer. You get to know them over time, but having tools like Tesorio provides visibility into the customers' habits over time. I love Tesorio because I can look at a customer’s average DSO and see if it’s a chronic delinquency problem or a one-time event.
Tip #3: Tenacity and Consistency
The most important advice I can give is to be tenacious. Don’t be put off by no response, a “no” response or an irate customer. Be consistent and be persistent. Don’t sugar coat what it is you’re asking for. Give a clear picture of what is required for resolution. Sometimes, I’ll offer a payment plan. Make it a conversation—at 90-plus days, a demand is obviously not working.
I follow up every other day with a customer who just isn’t responding. It’s about getting a response and lighting a fire that will elicit a response. If a customer is just not responding, reaching out every other day is warranted.
Here again, Tesorio’s automated A/R platform gives me back time in my day and the bandwidth to prioritize my accounts and take appropriate actions based on real-time insights. I can focus on the value I add to my accounts and I collect more money faster.
Are you ready to eliminate inefficient manual processes and focus on the work you enjoy?
Request a Tesorio demo today.