Business Meeting - people in a line

Last month here at the Credit Service Company blog, we talked about implementing new – or at least updated – policies into your credit conversations and while we had some great feedback, we also received some questions.  

The biggest among them was, by and large, about training.  How to do it, when to do it, and what exactly needed to be taught.

When it comes to training Accounts Receivable representatives for your company, you absolutely have to start at the very beginning of the customer onboarding process.  This is where the client’s expectations are set and when you, as a company, can firmly communicate what happens with respect to billing.  

Many times, sales people gloss over this part because they aren’t comfortable with the sale.  They are afraid that “buyer’s remorse” is going to set in before the actual close is done and thus, credit terms may get “skipped.” Or, even worse, business office managers may experience concern that a patient or client might decline services.  

This is the critical first step!  In order to lower A/R workloads, then start 60 or 90 days before – in sales department, or business office, as the case may be.  This is a unique training opportunity and your first line of protection.  How many times do we hear things like “I never saw that” or “That wasn’t what I was told”?  Sure, there are people that choose not to listen –and there are sales people that aren’t comfortable.  You can control one, you can’t control the other.  

Herein is the main reason that we mentioned in last month’s blog that automating the payment process and the credit policy can help alleviate this.  Depending on your type of business, by clearly providing customers with an automatic payment option, you can eliminate a whole lot of this pain.  It is, after all, 2016 – people expect the option of having accounts drafted automatically.  By using this method, and a well-written policy that reflects this method signed by the customer, you lessen the verbal jousting that may make a salesperson (or business office representative) uncomfortable and also protect your business in the event that a customer chooses to cease payment on a credit card.  The agreement can be presented as proof and ensures that your recourse as a creditor is much more financially stable if you have firm and clear policies in place.  

Another simple tip is, if your agreement is long and you want to be sure that nothing is overlooked, obtaining initials at individual bullet points detailing the credit terms, in addition to a full signature at the bottom of the agreement, is a good option.

Now, with that all stated, how can you effectively train accounts receivable staff?  Make sure that the documentation is there for them!  If your credit policies are in order, then they can deal much more effectively with clients.  “Training” is more the result of knowledge and confidence, rather than the result of another classroom session with role playing.  When you give them the tools to do the job – and at the same time you give the customer the tools to handle what they are asked to do, you’ll see that your late payments as a percentage of total receivables will begin to lessen.