Following Up Overdue Accounts – Between Diplomacy and Firmness

In the life of an accounting clerk, dealing with the company’s overdue accounts is a task often that requires a certain diplomacy: it is necessary to claim what is due, while taking care of the relationship with the client. How can this be done?

Be discreet

According to Steve Fournier, Accounts Receivable Analyst in Finance and Procurement at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, a good relationship with the client is first and foremost a matter of discretion. “Being responsible to track the client portfolio for some fifty partners, I have to keep information confidential. Otherwise, there will be a breach of trust and consequently a break in the relationship.”

Be up to date

In addition to being discrete, you need to “keep every file up to date for quick and proper follow-up.” In other words, never leave until tomorrow what can be done today, since letting delinquent files drag on may make them worse. What’s more, contacting the client as soon as possible to communicate the situation shows that you are concerned about him.

Be available

It is also important to provide quality follow-up with each client, whether by email, phone or in person. Every day, Steve Fournier makes a point of reading and responding to email requests quickly and efficiently.

Be clear and diligent

Also, according to an article from the Business Development Bank of Canada, outstanding customer service depends on being able to communicate the situation in a way that avoids misunderstanding. This can be done, for example, by presenting dated and detailed invoices, which include the conditions for late payment. This diligence, far from being aggressive, is a sign of professionalism and lays the foundation for a relationship of trust.

Be flexible

Although being firm with the client is an asset, it is also necessary to be flexible towards it. After all, it is always easier to work with a client who feels listened to and understood. This flexibility can be demonstrated by proposing different solutions, such as instalment payments, electronic payments or a discount for any early payment.

Thus, by mastering these qualities, the chances of establishing a relationship of trust with customers is increased. Once trust has been established, any delicate subject can be raised, any delinquent file can be settled…

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