Business Debt Collection – Dealing with Debt Series – Part Two: Communication
You can have debt recovery procedures and business T&C’s in place and still find your customers are consistently failing to pay their bills on time. One of the main reasons why this might be happening is because you have not made customers aware of your terms and conditions in an effective way.
Communication is key when it comes to getting invoices paid on time, and it needs to be done regularly and at an appropriate level for the customer you are dealing with. What follows are some steps you may wish to take that will ensure customers are getting the message in a clear effective way.
Get information from your customers
You should aim to get the customers home address, telephone number and email address as a minimum at an early stage. This allows you to send details of your invoice and payment procedures at the relevant time. This approach works well for online customers or those who have signed up to ongoing services. Anyone who is accepting responsibility for paying invoices either now or in the future will expect to part with some personal information at some point – get it early.
Your office or retail site should have plenty of information displayed for customers – especially if they arrive without an appointment. Someone who is coming to you as a new customer cannot be expected to understand how things work in your particular business – so tell them. Here are some ideas on how you could keep them informed;
- Posters on the entrance doors/waiting room walls/ reception area walls or in consultation rooms
- Provide brochures to hand to customers explaining your expectations – this is especially useful for someone who is coming to seek information
- Take the time to talk through your terms of business at the very start of your relationship.
- Give them a paper copy or email a PDF version of your Terms and Conditions as a matter of procedure when you sign up a new customer.
- Issue a copy of your Terms and Conditions to existing customers, this will enable you to update your customer history file and ensure you can contact customers when necessary.
What information should you communicate?
Your brochures, office posters and direct emails should include at least the following information (with details forming the Terms and Conditions, which you should encourage them to read).
- If payment is expected upfront, straight after a treatment or service or at a later date. If it is later – explain how many days they have to pay.
- How they may make payment. Cash, cheques, credit or debit cards.
- Explain the fact that you have a debt recovery procedure (no need for details as these will be in the T&Cs) and that it is followed consistently and could lead to debt collection costs being added to the debt.
- You expect them to contact you immediately if they are unable to make payment on time.
All customers’ need is knowledge. If they know the requirements of buying a service or goods from you, they know where they stand – and so do you. It is clear, unequivocal and not open to interpretation. But, they don’t know if you don’t tell them. In summary, keep your customers informed from the beginning – they’ll be far more satisfied and you’ll get paid quicker.
Should you want to find out more about correct procedures or, to find out more on how we can help you, please feel free to contact us.
Director at Debt Solve UK Ltd T/A as DSL.