7 skills all credit controllers need and where to get them
With financial uncertainty affecting businesses across the country, having a dedicated credit control team in place has never been more important.
In order to keep your own cash flow healthy you’ll need a team that knows how to deal with customers in difficult circumstances, and still collect payments.
Good credit controllers do more than simply chase late payment. They assess risks and build relationships with your customers.
Whether you take on the task yourself as a business owner or you have a dedicated department in place, it’s important that the person or people responsible for credit control have the required skills to do the job effectively or your cash flow could suffer.
So, what does it take to be a successful credit controller?
It’s no secret that effective credit control isn’t always easy. To keep cash coming in on time requires dedication, persistence and a lot of hard work. If you apply strong credit control processes for a short period and then slacken off, you’ll lose many of its benefits. Which is why a good credit controller will be consistent in their efforts.
A good credit controller will be organised and always have a strong grasp of the overall state of your sales ledger. Through a methodical approach, they will work through the sales ledger consistently and keep meticulous records of all calls and promises made.
When it comes to credit control making the right call as to which course of action is required is vital and one good call can easily justify a credit controller’s annual salary. That’s why all the best credit controllers will possess a quality that can’t always be learned – a sixth sense that lets them know exactly when pressure should be applied or a little slack allowed. Their combination of good judgment and strong intuition will help bring in payments that others find difficult to obtain.
Firm but fair approach
Good credit controllers are firm but fair negotiators with the ability to make even the most reluctant customers pay up. Through their assertive approach, they will develop ways to not take no for an answer. But the best credit controllers will always be able to achieve this without damaging the relationship.
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As someone who deals directly with your customers a good credit controller will understand the importance of nurturing relationships. As such, tact, diplomacy and empathy are all important qualities. Through this positive engagement with customers, they’ll learn exactly how good each customer is at settling invoices on time. And if a customer is having difficulty making a payment they’re more likely to tell a credit controller that they have a good relationship with.
No two days of credit management are ever the same so it’s important to be able to adapt to any situation to achieve a positive outcome. Using strong negotiation skills a good credit controller will listen to the situation at hand and construct payment solutions that work for the customer and the business. A diplomatic approach also helps to resolve unexpected disputes with major customers to limit the damage to the business’s cash flow.
Sense of humour
Although not an essential skill a sense of humour can make the job a lot more enjoyable. Working in credit control can be hard at times so it’s important to remain positive and learn to see the brighter side. And a sense of humour certainly helps when faced with bizarre excuses like “a dog ate my invoice”.
Where can you develop these skills?
One of the best ways to improve your skills is through experience. Over time you will begin to notice which excuses are genuine and which are simply stalling tactics, and also developing ways to counter those excuses effectively.
Training and qualifications
There are a number of places your staff can undertake professional training and qualifications to raise knowledge, skills and performance. Having such qualifications demonstrates professionalism and commitment and helps to understand and implement the principles of best practice to enhance and optimise day-to-day activities.
If your budget’s a little tighter, you can also take part in training from the comfort of your home or office. Sign up to webinars to gain knowledge from specialists that you can apply to your own credit management. Whilst these aren’t normally recognised as qualifications the information gained is highly valuable and can help keep you up to date with best practices without the need to take part in lengthy training courses.
There is a host of free information stored online that could help develop your credit control skills. Whether you prefer text blogs, infographics, eBooks or videos there are so many ways you can learn new techniques and a lot of it is free. For example, we share credit control tips and guides on our blog and in our resource centre that could improve your processes.
Outsourced credit control agency
If you do not have the time, resource or expertise to dedicate to improving your credit control it could be beneficial to outsource the task to the experts. Credit management is what an outsourced credit control agency does day in and day out to get results for its clients, allowing them to deliver knowledge and experience whilst removing the burden from your shoulders.
At Hilton-Baird Collection Services we are experts at credit control so you don’t have to be. If you need help with the recovery of an overdue invoice or a fully outsourced credit control facility we can help. Please get in touch on 0800 9774848 or request a call back to see what we can do for your business.