All companies need to collect their Accounts Receivables to be successful. But that becomes difficult if we start treating our customers as delinquents or write-offs, which is happening more and more in this economy. When you consider the cost to obtain new customers, isn’t it worth the effort to build a stronger relationship with your customer before they become delinquent?
Develop a Marketing Strategy for Collections. In today’s collection model, we need to sell the delinquent customer on the value of paying the bill by framing it in terms of fiscal responsibility and openness. Consider a multi-channel marketing strategy to create numerous favorable impressions. This could include case studies of other successful customers, inserts, websites that provide helpful business tips, social media and more. It can’t be faked—you really have to care about your customer and develop solutions that work for them and your business. Of course, that also requires listening, counseling, longer talk times and courtesy regardless of their initial attitude.
Start With Education. Before you can collect a delinquent bill, your customer must be listening. At Access we decided education was the best way to get them listening. So, we created an unbranded website (www.whycreditmatters.net) to encourage our delinquent customers to learn about their credit, credit scores, bankruptcy, credit repair, debt settlement and more. A “win-win” requires giving something in exchange. Your gift is to educate your customer, and their gift is paying their invoice.
Offer Special Finance Programs for Delinquent Customers. One example of compassion and flexibility is asking the customer to sign a confessed judgment in exchange for extended payment terms on an interest-bearing note. Continue to ship to them during their struggle with tighter controls on new products. This will strengthen your position in case of default and also assist your customer through a difficult period. The company that stands by me during hard times and even continues to ship me goods is the one I’m going to be loyal to once I’m back on my feet.
If You Build It, Will They Come? Your goal is to create a non-threatening helpful, friendly, and understanding environment. Our multi-channel approach is designed to entice the customer to go to our site, explore their options, create a desire, and motivate them to action. It should always be easy for the customer to contact you to pay their bill or discuss their situation (have you ever navigated your company’s website from your customer’s perspective?). The more channels of communication you have available, the better.
And remember, your delinquent customer is not the enemy.