I believe any collection call that does not result in a payment commitment being made by the debtor must be considered a failure, and a collection call resulting in a payment commitment of less money than the creditor expected must be characterized as only marginally productive. Many times, collectors never speak to anyone in accounts payable. Instead, they leave voice mail messages and end up in voice mail jail.
In my experience, as often as not creditors voice mail messages are ignored. Why? As a former accounts payable manager, my experience was that the volume of incoming collection calls far exceeded the time that the members of the accounts payable team could spend updating creditors on the status of payment. The question that we must all consider is this: Is there a way to make collection calls more productive?
I have found that one approach works particularly well. It involves simply refusing to leave a voice mail message. Here are several work-arounds to voice mail jail:
- Call the company operator and ask to speak to the A/P Manager. If they are not available, ask for the Controller or CFO and conduct your collection call as normal
- Call the operator and ask that your A/P contact be paged
- Call the operator and ask to speak to anyone in Accounts Payable
- Tell the operator that you are prepared to remain on hold until someone in A/P will take your call
- If you cannot reach the A/P department and know the name of the buyer, contact the buyer and ask if she or he can transfer you to “anyone” in accounting that can help you
One final comment: If you do not have a tracking mechanism or event alert tool that automates the process of identifying and ideally prioritizing collection calls based on the dollar amount past due or the age of the past due balance, then you are at a competitive disadvantage relative to creditor companies that have automated this process.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?
Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is www.coveringcredit.com.
The opinions presented are those of the author. The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors. Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.