1. Take Nothing Personally
The customer is not your enemy, and if you treat him like one, you give him more reason shy away. The old adage, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" holds true when it comes to collecting debts. Approach the need to collect the debt from a place of empathy for the customer. If you know what it is like to fall short one month, or be in a tight financial place, you can understand how bad that feels.
2. Communicate Daily
Communicate daily with the customer. Put everything in writing, and copy your boss on all correspondence (unless she tells you otherwise). Keep accurate and clear records of your attempts to collect the debt. Start with non-threatening letters that specifically request a prompt resolution by a certain date. Don't take a non-response for an answer; be persistent but polite. If the customer defaults on the debt, you want your boss to know everything you did on the company's behalf.
3. Work With the Customer
Your goal is to collect what is owed. See what the customer is able to do; for example, suggest a payment plan or perhaps the return of merchandise. Treat the customer like a respected partner, and remember not to get angry or vengeful. Make sure your boss approves of any solutions you wish to offer the customer before you do so.
Successful accounts receivable people are persistent, polite, and diplomatic. They never give up, and they don't get emotional. These are the people who are most likely to bring in all the money owed to the business and become extremely valuable in their bosses' eyes.
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