I meant to reach out to you much sooner as I’ve got a customer (very small business, 2-3 employees) who rambles on and on with a new excuse each time I call them to make their payment. For example, four months ago the problem was due to severe cash flow in which they were waiting for their customers to pay. Then three months ago, their computer system broke down and they could not issue any checks until it was repaired. Last month their accounting person abruptly quit, which left them rudderless on bill payments. And now just today, for the first time, they’ve told me about some (imaginary) quality problem with our product.
I’ve always got to mentally fortify myself (without drinking on the job) each time before calling them because I’m expecting another rambling monologue, which after a short while seems no more understandable than a turkey’s gobbling sound. In view of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, in which I would like to get this account paid before making my own turkey dinner, what should I do?
Signed: Tired of Listening to a Lot of Gobble Gobble
Dear Gobble Gobble,
No pun intended but you’ve really got a lot on your plate with this customer. Let me express a couple of thoughts on what you might be able to do quickly.
First, with all due respect, if you have been calling this debtor for the past four months or more and you’ve continued to be subjected to long rambling excuses, I think it’s time for you to pass the account to someone else at your company. Hopefully they won’t give the customer the opportunity to go on long diatribes with other excuses and will convey the urgency of being paid in full and at once.
If there is no one else at your company who can manage the collection calls with this customer by applying more pressure, then in view of the outstanding nature, it’s time to pass it to a third party for collection assistance. Seeing that you’d like to get paid before you sit down for your Thanksgiving dinner, giving the account to a third party professional might just make that a reality. At least in the short term, you’ll be able to enjoy your dinner knowing that a new course of action has been taken to get the account collected.
Happy Thanksgiving and let me know what happens.
Dear Crabby is a credit and collection advice column by Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org) on what to advise are most welcome, and with your permission, we’ll reprint your comments in the next issue of our newsletter.
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