Statistically, most of your delinquent customers aren’t deadbeats at all. Most want to preserve their credit enough to protect their payment record with you. Therefore, being late in paying you is causing them pain, too.
When your customer falls behind in payments, it’s safe to assume that you’re not the only one he owes. And because of that, your customer is forced to prioritize payments during what is clearly a tight financial period.
Communication during this period is critical. And the manner in which you communicate can put your invoice at the top of the pile … or at the bottom.
As the person trying to collect, your role can come off as adversarial unless you do something to change that. And a couple simple things just might.
Communicate with respect: Take the time to listen respectfully to the customer’s story. Ask questions. Don’t interrupt. The solution to the problem may be found in the story the customer tells.
Consider yourself a problem-solver: You and the delinquent customer want the same thing – to solve the debt. For your customer, nothing would make his day more than to have this issue off his desk and resolved. So approach the problem as the problem and the customer as the customer and don’t confuse the two. There is a solution and the two of you can find it.
Positive attitude: Your delinquent customer is still a customer and you want to keep it that way. Your attitude can solicit a desire to cooperate or it can be a huge turn off, making your job harder. Your customer should be treated as a customer.
Consider customer service a top priority with a delinquent customer.