Finance departments need to know what’s going on across the organization. Yet all too often communication channels clog up, with one important team being the last to know important info.
And that’s A/R.
Picture this: Your A/R point person calls up a new customer whose payment is coming due. He discovers the customer’s order arrived two weeks late due to an error by your Fulfillment department. Unfortunately no one in Fulfillment let your staffers know about the failure to deliver on time. Guess who ends up looking like the bad guy in this situation?
Another common scenario: A/R inquires about a partial payment that’s not spelled out as an option on the purchase order. The customer reveals that someone in your Sales force negotiated those term. The customer is a bit miffed (rightly so) about A/R not being on top of it. Bottom line: Sales forgot to clue in A/R and now the customer is wondering if A talks to B at your organization!
To boost payments, do what you can do on your end
Let’s face it: Communication snafus are a fact of life in any organization. You hammer home the importance of customer service and try to minimize mistakes that damage relationships with clients.
Your best option is to expect communication errors from time to time, and still put your A/R people in a position to shine.
Here are a few ways you can do just that:
- Before sending a late payment notice to a customer, remind staffers to take a minute and check up on the customer’s payment history. If it’s made one or more other orders recently and is paid up, it’s possible the late payment is a legitimate accounting error on its part. A phone call might be the better option, starting with your staffer thanking the customer for its business and its timely payments.
- When dealing with a new customer or a priority order, consider making A/R’s first contact purely a “check-in.” Make sure the client a) received the order, b) received it when promised, c) is happy with the product/service, or d) needs further assistance from your company. If the customer isn’t totally satisfied, A/R is the first link in the chain toward solving it. That’s a win-win for everybody.
- Remind staff that a lot of businesses are dealing with financial hurdles. A calm demeanor is key. So is remembering to use “please” and “thank you.”