Irrespective of whether you are telephoning or emailing your customer, care is always required. It is so easy to read a file, have built up a negative impression about the customer, or just have had a bad day. In such situations, it is not unusual to find people can start the conversation with all guns blazing and with a negative tone without going through the normal introductions first. You are so wound up and taking the time to finding out the actual situation first, has been forgotten.
The problem with this approach is that inevitably, it will prove to be a mistake. On too many occasions you will go on to find the actual reason for the non-payment may have nothing to do with the customer. The problem was due to a fault within your organisation or with a third party. Therefore your over-the-top introduction often leaves you with egg on your face and an unco-operative customer.
So what may have gone wrong, when it is not the customer's fault? The following examples should provide you with some food for thought.
1 The invoice has never been received by the customer. The reason does not matter, if they have not received the invoice, they cannot pay it
2 The customer has sent the payment and it has not been received.
3 The customer received the invoice(s), and noticing mistakes, has advised your firm. At the time of your contact, the customer is still waiting for a response from somebody in your organisation.
4 Sales have received the advice of an invoicing problem and has not actioned the customer's enquiry in order to protect their sales budgets and / or commissions.
5 There are insufficient numbers of employees to manage the current workload adequately. Therefore customer enquiries go unanswered, invoicing mistakes occur and problems keep mounting.
6 The invoice was raised to meet budget. However the invoice was not valid or was raised in the wrong month.
7 Ownership of the business has changed and your business was notified. However no contact has been made with the new business owners to validate trading terms between the two businesses.
Contacting the client these days about unpaid invoices and other problems needs to be undertaken with care. The world has moved on and always assuming the customer is in the wrong is fraught with danger.
If you would like to know more about managing your customer contacts, contact Kim at email@example.com