A few of my in-house programs are delivered to people who are responsible for customer service as well as collections. For them, I’ve tailored one of our standard collection programs. At first of course, it appears the objectives may be opposed, switching from the white hat of customer service to the black hat of collections.

Perhaps a better suggestion, one simple for the customers and a better ‘fit’ for the representatives is to wear just one hat – call it grey.

Let’s examine a bit further.

In Customer Service, if you do not resolve the outstanding issues, it can be costly for your firm because customers may not pay and you will lose future sales. Also, they will speak ill of you and studies tell us people talk louder, longer and to more people about ‘bad service’ than the good service they experience.

Collections? If you don’t collect, it can be costly for your firm because customers may not pay you and you will lose future sales. If you do collect, but not professionally then you lose future business – they will get you now or get you later.

In my training seminars, I ask “what is the objective of collections?”.  Invariably people will say it is to collect the money.

No.

Collecting the money is what we do, but the objective of collections is to maintain/keep the customer.

Suppose you shut down the collection department? Some customers would pay you, it’s in their automatic payables system and they don’t need any prodding. Others? You’re not going to get paid AND they will take their future business elsewhere. If they know they owe you money, they won’t return, figuring they’ll have to pay for past invoices. So, you lose the past sale as well as future sales.

On the other hand, go to their office and pull a gun (hey, just for discussion purposes) and you may collect the past-due account but future sales? Forget it.

The professional collector recognizes that customer retention, now and in the future is their prime objective – that includes customer service. Once the team recognizes true and clear objectives then “serving AND collecting” becomes achievable.