Studies have shown that if you can make a personal visit to a customer, you are much more likely to have success with your open accounts. It’s hard to ignore a call to action to pay when you’re standing right in front of them, as opposed to an email or phone call. This also gives you a chance to strengthen your relationship with the customer, you don’t have to be the grim reaper standing on their doorstep. Take the time to get to know them and help them to relieve their financial issues. Whether you’re visiting a customer to introduce yourself, to solve a problem, or evaluate a request for a chance in their credit terms or limits, there are some things you have to remember. Here are some of the major do’s and don’ts of an accounts receivable customer visit.
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO
- Take some time before the visit to put together a complete and up-to-date folder that has all of the account’s relevant credit information and other related documents.
- Travel with the sales person that works with this account. This will not only help in case there are any issues that come up, but also keeps everyone in the loop on what’s discussed and any action items that result from the meeting.
- Whether you’re traveling with sales or not, have a meeting before you go to have a candid conversation about the account, gather background info, outlines goals for the meeting, etc.
- Prepare a list of questions for the person or people you will be meeting. These could be questions around their finances, any compliance needs they need you to meet when invoicing them, future plans, etc. the questions you ask will depend on the reason for the visit.
- Take notes during the meeting to ensure you’re bringing back the correct information.
- Send a follow up email to the customer after the meeting to summarize the discussion and any action items. This ensures you’re all on the same page, everyone knows what they are responsible for, and there is documentation of the meeting to be tracked along with the customer’s other credit information.
- Write up a report after the visit that can be sent to all internal resources who need to know what was discussed or decided in the meeting, such as top executives, sales managers, customer service, etc. Keep it brief but informative.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO
- You can discuss possibilities, but do not make significant promises or commitments during the visit. You can always tell the customer you need to run it past the rest of your team or the CEO of your company before moving forward as a way to avoid this situation.
- Let the meeting get confrontational.
- Say anything negative about your company or colleagues. Sometimes when things get tough it’s easier to blame someone who is not in the room or fault your company’s processes, but this can lead to the customer thinking of you and even your company as unprofessional.
- Bring up other customers during your meeting. Again this is unprofessional and surely your customer would be sitting there thinking, “gee I hope they don’t talk about us like this with other customers.”
- Hang out in the area. If you and your team go out to have drinks or a meal after the meeting to recap, go somewhere further away from the customer. The last thing you want to do is wind up at the restaurant down the street where all the employees go and have your conversation (be it good or bad) overheard by company employees.