Friday 01 st Jul 2011
Tenacity, determination, assertiveness. These are the probably the first answers that spring to most peoples minds when this question is posed. But is that the end of the story?
Having spent many years recruiting credit controllers in a wide range of industries, I certainly believe that these characteristics are necessary but also believe that they are simply not enough in themselves.
It is also not enough to see the credit controllers role simply as a “debt collector” To do so is like looking through a telescope the wrong way round. Simply put the credit controller’s responsibilities will extend beyond the simple reminder to pay.
Making the right call as to which course of action is required is vital. This comes with experience and the best credit controllers will often instinctively know when pressure should be applied or a little slack allowed. This will not only be through building a constructive understanding relationship with the client but also by standing back a little and forming an accurate profile of who exactly they are dealing with. Every credit controller should be able to make an independent credit assessment or at least have access to the impartial reliable information.
This is absolutely vital. The first indication of your business incurring a costly and even potentially fatal bad debt, will come from your credit controller. They will be alert to the danger with certain accounts.
On the other hand and often underappreciated is their ability to also reign in overreaction to an overdue account where the credit risk can be minimal. Stuff happens with clients and to lose a good one simply because of a blip is costly in itself
One good call can easily justify a credit controller’s annual salary
So experience usually leads to good judgment but a good credit controller will always be able to see the wider picture and make the necessary moves to ensure the right decisions are taken
Furthermore, the credit controller is likely to be the only interface between the finance department and the clients. This is naturally far more sensitive than dealing with eager suppliers or the VAT man. Clients can be unpredictable and often quite unreasonable. They know their value to your business and will sometimes not be afraid to exploit it. On the other hand, the credit controller will sometimes be an essential contact. Account managers and sales teams can be a little distracted from dealing with on-going client issues and it can take the credit controllers desire to collect payment that can bring the parties together.
Tact, diplomacy and empathy. You may be surprised how many client relationships have been rescued by the credit control team.
Simple debt collection? Not at all. Take the role seriously. Give it the attention it deserves and your business will reap the rewards