Credit control by phone

Credit control is an area of telephone sales that is often overlooked. Traditionally, professional firms have sent to clients an account of their fees, followed by statements at regular intervals.

Unfortunately, this method does not guarantee timely payment, and extracting fees from clients can be a painful exercise. It is sensible to agree payment terms before actually starting any work.

Stage payments have much to recommend them, since the client can write several small cheques rather than a single large one, and the practice will have a regular income of funds.

However, there do exist clients who are in the habit of holding invoices for as long as possible, despite having agreed dates for payment. These people have no difficulty in consigning a statement to the wastepaper basket without a second glance.

A telephone call direct from the credit controller, on the other hand, is far more difficult for them to ignore.

Debt-chasing by telephone does have its drawbacks. You may not have the resources to assign somebody else to do it and have to perform the task yourself, and it can be a time-consuming exercise.

Perhaps you will be concerned that a more active pursuit of overdue debt will damage your relationship with a client. You may even feel that clients who have to be chased aggressively for debts are not worth having in the first place.

On the other hand, the use of the telephone to collect outstanding funds is very effective. Making one call can be more productive than sending half a dozen statements or red letters.

In a direct telephone conversation you will compel the client to tell you precisely why he or she has not paid. After such direct confrontation, payment is usually soon forthcoming.

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