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Anatomy of a successful credit controller


Do you have what it takes to be a great credit controller?

Credit controllers play a vital role in ensuring that businesses get paid on time, every time. But, what exactly does it take to be successful in this role?

Here we look at the anatomy of a successful credit controller to highlight some of the common characteristics that people in this position share.


From knowing their way around complex IT systems and databases to good mathematical skills and even understanding debt recovery laws, a good credit controller is a fountain of knowledge. Plus, keeping up to date with industry news is invaluable when deciding whether or not a customer should be offered credit terms.

Where to develop your credit control knowledge

Strong negotiator

To make reluctant customers pay, good credit controllers need to be firm but fair negotiators. With an assertive approach they will get the desired results without having to damage customer relationships.

Eyes on sales ledger

A good credit controller will know what’s going on with their sales ledger at all times. With an organised and methodical approach, they will know exactly which invoices need chasing and when. Plus, they will keep meticulous records of all calls and promises made so that they always follow up when required.

4 reasons to regularly review your sales ledger


Dealing with customers on a daily basis requires a personable character that is able to nurture relationships and remain approachable. 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.


Although it’s not an essential skill, a positive attitude and a good sense of humour can make a credit controller’s job more enjoyable. Credit management isn’t always easy and, on those tough days, the ability to see the brighter side can certainly help. Plus, it’s hard not to have a sense of humour when faced with bizarre excuses like “my puppy ate my chequebook”.

“My puppy ate my chequebook” and 7 other awful late payment excuses

Good gut instincts

Whether it’s a natural instinct or something that is gained from experience, all great credit controllers possess a sixth sense that lets them know when customers are being genuine or simply stalling payment. This combination of good judgment and strong intuition often helps bring in payments that others would find difficult to obtain.

Firm grasp of best practices

Keeping up-to-date with credit management best practices is vital so that you continue to get the best results for your business. For example, credit checking new customers is a great way to assess the risk they pose to your business before offering credit. But if you fail to credit check existing customers throughout your relationship you risk offering credit to those who can no longer afford to pay you.

More credit control tips

Elbow grease

Effective credit control requires dedication, persistence and a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough to only focus on credit control for a short period. A good credit controller will be consistent in their efforts because they know that if they aren’t, the results will deteriorate. 

Quick responses

When it comes to successfully collecting money from customers, speed is vital. Statistically, the older an invoice gets the harder it becomes to collect so the quicker you act the more likely you are to recover what you’re owed. A great credit controller will contact their customers as soon as an invoice goes overdue to ascertain why it hasn’t been paid and when they expect that it will be.

How to build an effective credit control timeline

Always heading forward – not back

Whilst it’s important to look back and evaluate failures and successes, a great credit controller will spend more time focusing on the future than dwelling on the past. After all it is more valuable to focus on how you will successfully recover new invoices and maintain your cash flow than it is to worry about bad debt that you have written off in the past. The best credit controllers recognise that passing all invoices that reach a certain age over to a debt collection agency can free up their time to focus on newer invoices whilst their aged ones are safe in the hands of the experts.

Does this sound like a credit controller you know? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you don’t have the required skills or time necessary to dedicate to credit control you could benefit from outsourcing the task to the experts. At Hilton-Baird Collection Services we ensure that all of our staff have the necessary skills to deliver results so that you don’t have to. So, if you have outstanding invoices that you need help recovering or if you would like to consider a fully outsourced credit control service contact us on 0800 9774848 or collections@hiltonbaird.co.uk to see how we could help.

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Just some of our clients

  • Kreston Reeves
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  • Wupwoo
  • PNC Business Credit
  • FRP Advisory
  • Construction Recruitment Services
  • Custom Glass
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  • BNP Paribas
  • SER Contractor
  • Kroll
  • Quantuma
  • Midland Rock
  • Wote Street People
  • Harrisons Business Recovery
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  • Leumi ABL
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  • Close Brothers Invoice Finance
  • Mazars
  • Smith & Williamson
  • Leonard Curtis

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