Remember your first time?
It is a provocative title and of course, quite intentional. Perhaps it takes one back a bit? Whether befuddled, exhilarating, disappointing or surprising, it was intense and not easy to forget.
Yes, we do remember.
Your customers will remember the first collection call they receive from your organization. Nowhere to the same degree of intensity as the ‘first time’ memories that may be skipping through your mind at the moment; but memorable and setting the tone for your future relationship.
In most organizations, the first contact with a delinquent customer is a ‘gentle reminder’ call made by the newest and perhaps most inexperienced members of the collection team. However, much more than a ‘gentle reminder’ should be delivered with this first contact:
- Customer Service:
If there has been any problem with the product or the service we want to know right now and have the chance to make it right. This will also eliminate someone later claiming there was a problem.
- Payment Terms:
Ensure the customer understands the terms of payment. It is human nature that in order to make the sale, the details or repayment may not have been made clear to the customer – and perhaps not mentioned at all.
- Laid off/Factory burned down:
Something may have happened within the short period of time since the sale or application. It is not only the person with the most knowledge who is in a better situation it is how ‘soon’ you have the knowledge.
- You don’t have to pay:
It is always the customer’s decision to pay you, but they need to know clearly and right away that there are consequences to not paying on time. It begins with a ‘professional’ collection call. (You may tell them it is a ‘courtesy call’ or ‘a friendly reminder’ but internally, you need to understand it may be the most important and critical contact you make to your customer.)
Perhaps volume and/or availability of ‘seasoned & experienced’ collectors prevents you from contacting all with your best people for ‘the first time’. Create a matrix, perhaps based on balance or future expected sales. If it is less experienced personnel who will make the calls, ensure they receive the needed training and know all the objectives of that first important contact. Have a video or an audio sample available for them.
For the first time, you at least want to know what is expected of you. J
P.S. By the way, you even improve on this contact by making a call to ALL of your new customers BEFORE a payment is due.
Many of you were kind enough to help out with an assessment to help develop a “CollectABILITY Index. For your trouble, we sent an e-book and also put names in for a cash draw. The draw took place in Nepal on February 9th. Winners are posted on the site at:
Learn more about the first time and other techniques at one of our SMART collection seminars. We have programs in the next couple of weeks in St. Louis, Chicago, Buffalo and Toronto. Contact me for details.