How do I deal with a delinquent client?
As a Scotiabank Small Business advisor, I can relate to this challenge for small business owners. I too have to manage these problems while striving to maintain positive customer relations between owners and Scotiabank.
I have learned that you will have greater success in growing your number of paying customers, and limiting your number of delinquent customers, through education right from the beginning of the relationship. By teaching your customers about your products, services and the way you do business, you can effectively manage the relationship.
When a problem does arise, deal with it promptly. Contact your customers to have some key questions addressed:
• Is the customer aware of the situation?
• Are they being proactive or reactive?
• Is the client aware of the changing economic times?
• Do they have short-term or long-term goals or solutions?
• How have they maintained affairs prior to this situation?
• Do they have a positive relationship with us?
The answers to those questions may highlight whether you are dealing with a “strong” client or a “weak” client. For clients who are aware of the problem, and have ideas on how to address it, work with them on a solution, such as through a modified repayment schedule. With weak clients, you should also try to correct and resolve the situation. However if the situation deteriorates, and you can’t find a solution that works for the both of you, then you may have to take more drastic steps, but that should be avoided if possible.
Communication is always the key to successfully handle challenging situations. It will help you avoid them initially, give you a clear idea of how to address them when they arise, and allow you to maintain a professional relationship with your clients.