3 things that will increase your chances of a successful recovery of debt
When it comes to recovering overdue invoices, every scenario is different, and what works perfectly with one customer might not work at all with another.
However, there are some things that tend to help with the recovery of debt no matter who you are talking to. While these 3 tips won’t guarantee that your business will get paid sooner, they’ll definitely increase the odds and make your conversations with the more tricky clients a lot easier.
1. Be aware of your tone
This one seems so simple yet can be easy to forget when you’re dealing with a difficult client.
When it comes to B2B debt recovery, it’s important to remember that the person you’re talking to may not be the one ultimately responsible for why your invoice hasn’t been paid, and they could be facing their own internal challenges that are blocking them from paying the invoice.
A firm but friendly approach can be very useful in the recovery of debt – especially soon after the invoice due date – as it shows that you’re in control of the situation and that you’re willing to work together to resolve the issue and get the invoice paid.
Small things such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will go a long way in encouraging someone to prioritise getting your invoice paid, as well as preserve your relationship with an important customer who may require your business’s products or services again in the future.
2. Offer solutions
When you know you’ve done everything right on your end by sending an invoice promptly, following up to confirm receipt and contacting the customer throughout the credit period, it can be difficult to hear what sounds like excuses from your customer.
Rather than getting frustrated by what seem like obvious excuses (“I never received this invoice”), it’s best to overcome issues with a straightforward solution (“I can send you a copy now”) and get confirmation that the issue has been resolved (“I’ll stay on the phone while you confirm that you’ve received it”). This allows the conversation to move forward and keeps things friendly but prevents customers who are looking for ways to delay payment getting away with blatant excuses.
It could be that what seems like an attempt to delay or avoid paying is a genuine concern, oversight or accidental error on the customer’s behalf, and this approach diffuses any tension in the situation and ensures that things are resolved as cleanly as possible.
If you’re regularly experiencing similar problems with different customers, it may be that the solution needs to be a permanent change, such as switching to digital invoicing to avoid postal delays or offering new payment methods which allow customers to pay online, for example.
3. Take time to prepare
Before every phone call, it’s worth taking a little extra time to prepare. This could be as simple as reading through past notes, catching up with the person who last had contact with them or reviewing any relevant terms and conditions.
It’s also worth making sure you have all paperwork and documentation relating to that customer to hand, so you can use it to steer your conversations should you need to.
If this is a customer that you have an existing relationship with, that will likely determine how you should approach the conversation. If this is the first time you’ve had payment difficulties with a loyal customer, it’s likely you’ll want to take a much gentler approach than you might with a customer who regularly causes problems.
When to look for extra help
Every credit control team knows that no matter how good you are, there will always be times you’ll come across that impossible customer who simply isn’t willing to pay. At times like these, engaging a debt collection agency not only frees up your time and brings added expertise, it also sends a clear message to the customer – that you aren’t willing to be messed around.
Often, just knowing that an invoice has been passed to a debt collection agency can be enough to convince a reluctant customer to pay, and agencies will be used to dealing with those that fall into the ‘difficult’ category and getting a good result.
At Hilton-Baird Collection Services, we have been providing a wide range of debt collection and credit control services since 2001, so have plenty of experience in the successful recovery of overdue debt.
We are fully authorised by the FCA, members of the CSA, and have been voted Third Party Debt Collection Team of the Year at the CICM British Credit Awards in both 2018 and 2019.
If you need support with any overdue invoices, get in touch with our team on 0800 9774848 or request a call back for a time that suits you.
Alternatively, get an instant debt collection quote today.