Businesses offer credit to customers to acquire new customers, increase sales, enjoy a competitive advantage, and maintain relations with customers.
However, there may be instances in which payments might be delayed from the customer’s end. In such a situation, companies need to take action immediately to recover the dues. Delayed payments can drain precious resources of enterprises as they might have to redirect human resources, time, and efforts away from core revenue-generating activities towards ensuring recoveries.
Here are some action steps companies can undertake to accelerate collections and stabilise operations:
• A gentle reminder
There is a possibility that the customer might have forgotten to make payment, and it would help to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. An ideal way out would be to send a friendly reminder. This can be either in the form of a phone call, email, or a letter.
In such a reminder, make sure to include the company’s bank details and payment options and links. At times, such a reminder might be enough to collect the overdue amount.
Businesses can digitalise and automate recovery processes using the latest CRM software. CRM systems facilitate data consolidation and empower enterprises with better tracking and follow-ups, time-based reminders, and faster collections. It is important to choose software solutions that can import customer data and sync with existing business tools.
• Follow Up:
If the reminders didn’t yield results, the next step would be to engage in some active follow-ups.
Firstly, the concerned official can consider sending across an overdue payment reminder to the customer. This can be in the form of a second phone call, email, or an official letter.
• Set up an in-person meeting:
If the above attempts to recover the payment from the customer has failed to bear fruit, try for a face-to-face meeting with the customer.
Here, the company will get a better idea as to why the customer is delaying the payments.
After getting to know the customer side of the story and the genuineness of the reason, a company can choose to devise a payment plan to ease repayments. This plan would give the customer a further advantage of making the payments in instalments.
• Connect with the client’s finance team:
If companies cannot connect with their usual point of contact, they can directly communicate with the client’s financial department. Information regarding unpaid invoices can be obtained directly from the finance department to bridge communication gaps.
• Hire third-party collection agencies:
If all efforts to recover customer dues have been exhausted at the company level, companies can seek third-party assistance. There are professional collection agencies, which help to collect outstanding payments from the customers. However, it’s essential to make sure that the debt collection practices followed by these agencies are law-abiding.
• Serve a legal notice:
As a last resort, it would help to serve a legal notice to the customer. A legal notice acts as a formal intimation to the customer that failing to clear the dues would attract legal action.
If the customer wants to avoid court proceedings, they are likely to clear the dues immediately. Alternatively, if the legal notice is ignored, then the company can take the customer to court.
• Stay calm and professional:
No matter the delay, it is essential to address late payments in a calm and composed manner. Professional ethics need to be followed while demanding payment from the customer.
While speaking to the customer, the executive should avoid getting angry and prevent the usage of foul language. It is vital to keep the company’s reputation intact, even while carrying out recoveries.
• Due diligence before extending credit:
It would be helpful to exercise due caution before granting credit to customers. Before offering credit to a customer, it would help to know a little about its business performance and reputation. Efforts can be made to research the customer’s past credit performance, commitment, and standing in the market.
Similarly, offering incentives for early payment, making available multiple payment modes, and clearly stating the payment terms would be extremely useful in ensuring timely payments from the customer. Executing tight contracts with penalties for late payments can also help discourage defaults.
Delayed payments can be a deal-breaker for growing enterprises. Invest in suitable systems to automate collections and predictive analytics to forecast possible defaults to stay ahead of the game. Still facing collection woes? Reach out to Tata Capital to access our tailored working capital solutions to bridge your financing gaps.