Here is a fact that might astound you – your credit controllers spend more time talking to the customers than the sales people do, and in my research I find that the credit controllers care more about customers than the sales people do. The credit controllers spent a large portion of their time cleaning up after the sales team in an attempt to keep their customers happy.
In some organizations there are disputes and queries to be dealt with and in a lot of cases, the disputes and queries arose as a result of a breakdown in communication between the sales department and the customer, and the credit controller is the one who has to sort it out.
A good credit controller will have a sharpened sense of urgency about them and at times the amount of time that elapses between a query being raised and being resolved is unacceptable. The length of time it takes some companies to issue Credit Notes is equally unacceptable.
The real fact is that in the same way sales people are competing for your customers business, your credit controllers are competing for their money. In these times when there are often more bills than money, the skill of an experienced credit controller can be the difference between being included in the cheque run or being left behind.
What we find as well is that sales people don’t really care about their customers, what they really care about is sales. They go in take the order, add up their sales figures and move on to the next one. I appreciate that sales people are not administrators and paperwork is not one of their favorite jobs – and that is fine. It is up to the person responsible for credit to ensure the systems and procedures are kept as simple and straightforward as possible. The more verbal communication they can engage in with the sales people the better.
Rather than look at your business as a collection of various departments, each with their own priorities and targets, see your company as a single unit dedicated to serving the customer. That unit works in a cycle that begins with cash, goes through product, delivery, customer satisfaction, if possible customer delight rather than just satisfaction, administration, billing, collections and back again to money.
The better your credit controllers are the faster this cycle works and the better it is for everyone. Depending on your position within the company there are a number of questions you should ask:
If you are the business owner: Are Credit and Sales working together?
If you are a credit controller: Are our customers happy?
If you are involved in sales: Are we all working together to maximize our profitable sales?
If you are involved in other departments: What can I do to add value to our customers?
If you are in the stores department the simple answer to that question would be to make sure the customer receives in time and in good condition, everything they ordered.
If you are in production your answer to make sure all our customers get a top quality product – every time.
Finally, if you really want to know how happy your customers are – go and ask your credit controllers, they know a lot more than they are given credit for and giving credit is what they do!