We’ve all experienced it. You notice large invoice amount on your aged trial balance that is seriously past due. You call the customer, identify yourself and your company and are suddenly greeted with an absolute litany of expletives.
How could you have avoided this scenario?
Know your customer and research their file before you make the phone call.
Let’s start over
A review of the account shows that this customer has always paid on time. Pull a copy of the invoice. Are there products or services that have been a concern in the past? A review indicates that they seldom make claims for credits and when they do, they are always legitimate.
Unfortunately the customer notes do not provide any reason for the past due status. Now What?
Before you contact the customer make internal enquiries. You may think it may be a lot of legwork but remember your goal is not only to collect the accounts receivable, but to maintain an excellent relationship with the customer. Check with Customer Service and then the Sales Representative and make sure you document your enquiries in the customer files.
You have exhausted all internal avenues but are still no clearer to an answer.
It’s time to contact the customer.
Greet the customer as you always do.
When you ask about the invoice, do not mention it is past due… Tell the customer there is an open invoice from ____ and that the payment falls out of their regular payment habit.
Ask them if it is possible they may not have received the invoice and if so, you would be happy to forward it by e-mail or fax.
If the invoice is a concern or disputed invoice and the customer is upset, let Them Vent. When they have calmed down, ask for details and document them. It is extremely important that you both document the concern and give the customer a date and time when you will get back to them with answers. On the deadline date, call the customer even if you don’t have a resolution. Let them know that although you don’t have a resolution, that you are still working on the concern. Give them details of your investigation to that point and again give a deadline date that you will contact him and again follow up.
Remember to focus on the concern, not the situation
Keeping notes is also important because some debtors dispute invoices to delay payment or get a reduced price. When the customer notes indicate a constant flow of disputes, it may be time to address the account with senior management.