GUEST POST: Empathy in Action: 3 Tips for Collecting Money while Preserving the Staffing-Client Relationship Published by Amy Frisella - May 18, 2018 Statistics tell us that it costs up to five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an old one. But in many cases, staffing agencies fail to properly manage and collect payments on overdue accounts – which, in turn, may result in decreased sales and poor customer retention at your firm. As a collection lawyer who has represented staffing firms for over 15 years, I’ve counseled countless clients about preserving their business relationships and offer three actionable recommendations for transforming a disgruntled, overdue account into a loyal client who prioritizes your relationship and pays timely. Enthusiastic Listening – Every good sales department knows to listen to customer’s needs. And, your top recruiters are able to capture more new customers by being enthusiastic listeners. This means they listen with the expectation of finding a solution. This same skill needs to be applied to your overdue accounts. Often when there is a dispute, each side maneuvers to their position and repeats it over and over again – hoping to be heard. It doesn’t take long to become entrenched. Instead of repeating your position,“your contract had a 60-day guarantee and the candidate left at day 75”, listen to the special needs of your customer to create a solution – “why don’t I see if we can write a 90-day guarantee into all of your future contracts.” Be as flexible, creative and accommodating with an old customer as you are with a new one. Use enthusiastic listening to create a solution that hears your client’s needs – while getting paid. Create a Fresh Start– Usually by the time an account is overdue there are at least two individuals who dislike each other. Imagine your customer feeling like your company is that unwanted acquaintance you just can’t shake. To overcome this, create an internal procedure that assigns a new person to manage an overdue account. This shows your customer that even if they could not reach an amicable solution with their account rep, your company has other people who are willing to work to keep their business. Give this task to someone in your company that doesn’t know anything about the dispute and train them to disclose that as an introduction to the conversation. “I don’t know much about your account, but I’m calling to see if there is something I could correct internally that’s prevented you from paying for the placement we made.” Having a new person reach out to your customer to try to resolve a problem creates a fresh start and is a simple step to getting paid and preserving the business relationship. You Catch More Bees With Honey – Not getting paid for your work is frustrating. Asking people for money can be embarrassing. And being ignored feels like a complete waste of time. All of this can add up to internal collection practices paramount to hitting a bee hive with a baseball bat. You’re only going to get stung. Collecting money and preserving the business relationship depends on your professionalism – coupled with enthusiastic listening and a commitment to find a solution. You can’t tame every bee. But keep in mind, everyone would prefer to pay a person they like over a person they don’t. Every relationship in business can be used to bring value to your company. Dissect your overdue accounts to find opportunities to bolster customer retention. Customer complaints can teach you to streamline your collection procedures, improve training in your sales department, close a loophole in your contract, or create a due diligence paradigm for new customers. Make sure you get fully paid for every single placement you make – either in cash or in knowledge – to best improve your bottom line.