The customer is the center of everything you do as a business; it's a universal truth. No matter what industry you're involved in, whether you're selling to end consumers or to other companies, you're only in business so long as you have satisfied customers.
You already know how important customer service is for just about every aspect of your business; providing a great customer experience is paramount for you at every part of the sales cycle.
Yes, every step of the way—including accounts receivable. Focusing on customer relationships is just as important at this stage as it is when you're first trying to make the sale!
Today's customer doesn't want to be a number or a nameless, faceless "client" to your company. Customers want real interactions. They want to feel understood and accepted; they want you to empathize with them.
This is especially relevant during the initial stages of relationship-building with the customer. When you reach out to potential clients, they want to hear about how you compare to your competition and how they’ll be treated differently. They want customized offers to meet their needs—not a form letter.
After the initial purchases, you must continue working on your client relationships. Delivering great service when they need another product or troubleshooting any issues they have with their purchases. Relationship building is key to customer service, and it’s these experiences that build loyal, repeat customers.
Relationships and Accounts Receivable
Some companies neglect that customer relationships continue during the collections stage. Maintaining the relationship is essential: If you end your relationship with the customer before you collect on the account, it's likely you'll never get paid.
Have you thought much about how your customers are treated, especially if their accounts are in arrears? While you hope most of your customers pay you on time and without issue, there are always a few accounts you'll need to chase after. This is a critical period in the relationship.
Humanizing the Process
Accounts receivable collections can sometimes get a little tense; both sides can become heated if customers drag their heels about payment.
Yet the best thing to do is to be sympathetic and understanding with the customer, as much as possible, and to consistently offer great customer service. Why didn't the customers pay? Sometimes, it's as simple as they forgot; in other cases, there may be serious problems in the business. While you still need to collect on the account, perhaps there's something you can do to make things easier for the customer.
While you shouldn't give up on the account or write off bad debt, think about interacting more sympathetically. Even in the most difficult situations, a little understanding goes a long way.
Maintaining Your Brand
This is particularly important if your brand is all about good customer service! If the message is getting lost during the accounts receivable collection process, there's something wrong with the situation. Your customers should be getting quality customer service throughout the entire sales cycle, even if they've failed to pay their bills.
By focusing on the customer relationship, even accounts receivable collection can be made more pleasant. Better yet? Companies that have good relationships with their customers tend to handle the receivables process more effectively. Why? Your customers want to work with you, you’re not just "another business," but an important and valued business partner.