My wife has been employed in the world of biz-to-biz Collections for over twenty years now. The essence of her job is to collect as much money as possible in as timely a manner as possible so her employer can continue to run its operation as efficiently as possible.
Being good at it? Tough.
Being liked while at it? Tougher.
I love the reactions when my wife tells new acquaintances she’s in Collections. Their faces reveal two thoughts: “I would never be good doing that” and “You must not be well-liked.”
She is very, very good at Collections. That’s not just me saying that. Her employers have always praised her work. How many employers actually do THAT?
Oh…and she happens to be liked by the accounts she collects on. At the very least respected.
Not despised as you might expect.
She gets an invoice paid with a polite e-mail…with a professional phone call.
Don’t fear…she can put the hammer of Thor down when need be. Ironically that happens as much to her co-workers as the companies who owe money. She’s efficient at what she does, makes few errors and justifiably hold her peers to be as accountable as her collection accounts.
She sets out daily to collect money – big money – from some large corporations. Corporations that like to play the “cash flow” game and stretch out having to pay bills until the last possible day before they risk slowing down or even stopping the flow of her company’s products into their facilities.
She does it respectfully, which at the end of the day is the main reason she’s so successful. Those on the other end of the phone or e-mail trail tend to react more favorably to a collector who treats them with respect.
It is inevitable over time each company she collects from slips up…misplaces invoices…can’t get the funds out as specifically promised, etc. She’s heard it all.
And they remember how she handled all their delays (deliberate or not)…
My wife is no pushover. She kindly gives me just enough rope to hang myself at home…and does the same for the businesses she collects from at work. Companies get a second chance…but don’t push it people…she’ll surely push back.
Which brings us to Christmas…when people in Collections usually are smacked in the face with the cold, snowy reality they aren’t nearly as well-liked as Customer Service or Sales…or even Management (the horror!).
Other departments get the tokens of appreciation for business relationships during the Holidays.
Until this year.
The day after Christmas…she received a Christmas card from a company.
A company still on my wife’s “Naughty List” for bad (payment) behavior.
They don’t buy as much as they used to…the note on the inside read…
“I miss talking with you!”
A Christmas miracle. A Christmas card.
A personal message as well.
(Ignoring the card was a day late…)
Collections has Christmas too.