7 skills all credit controllers need and where to get them
With late payment affecting businesses across the country, having a dedicated and effective credit control team or resource in place has never been more important.
Whether that means developing and adding to your existing team or outsourcing to a specialist credit control agency, it’s vital the resource you use possesses the skills to collect payment from customers on time, and work with customers in difficult circumstances to keep cash coming into the business.
If you’re a credit controller reading this, you’ll understand the importance of being at the top of your game. Good credit controllers do more than simply chase late payment. They assess risks, build relationships with customers, and keep the importance of good cash flow at the forefront of their minds at all times.
So whether you’re a senior decision maker looking to improve your business’s credit control performance or a credit controller wondering how you can get better at what you do, this article explores seven key skills you’ll need to be effective – and where to get them.
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. One good decision 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 and possess the ability to make even the most reluctant customers pay what they owe. Through their assertive approach, they will develop ways to not take no for an answer, and the very best credit controllers will always be able to achieve this without damaging the relationship. They’ll also recognise when the customer isn’t responding to internal efforts and a specialist debt collection agency could bring faster results, and the time to focus on other invoices that require your attention.
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, giving the business advance notice and the opportunity to agree the best way forward.
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 key 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”! This article looks at how to overcome the most common excuses for late payment.
Where can credit controllers develop these skills?
One of the best ways for credit controllers to improve their skills is through experience. Over time, it will become easier to identify which excuses are genuine and which are simply stalling tactics, and to develop ways to counter those excuses effectively.
Training and qualifications
There are a number of places credit controllers can undertake professional training and qualifications to raise knowledge, skills and performance. Having such qualifications demonstrates professionalism and commitment, and helps them to understand and implement the principles of best practice to enhance and optimise day-to-day activities.
If your budget’s a little tight, credit controllers can also take part in training from the comfort of the home or office. Plenty of companies run webinars that enable credit controllers to gain knowledge from specialists that can then be applied to your own company. Whilst these aren’t normally recognised as qualifications, the information gained is highly valuable and can help to 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 or your team’s credit control skills. Whether you prefer 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, how tos and guides on our blog and in our resource centre that could improve your processes, and are based on our experiences of providing debt recovery and credit control services to a wide range of businesses.
What other options exist?
If your business lacks the time, resource or expertise to dedicate to improving your credit control, it could be beneficial to outsource this vital function to a specialist credit control agency.
Credit management is what an outsourced credit control agency does every day to get results for its clients, bringing expertise to the process whilst freeing up the time to focus on core activity. It additionally avoids the costs associated with recruiting and training employees, and the challenges around staff holidays or leave.
At Hilton-Baird Collection Services, we are experts at credit control so you don’t have to be. Award-winning and FCA-authorised, we have more than 20 years’ experience of providing debt recovery and outsourced credit control services to businesses of all sizes.
To discuss your requirements, please call 0800 9774848 or request a call back to see what we can do for your business.