Collections Has Christmas Too

My wife has worked in the world of business-to-business Collections for twenty-five years now. The essence of her job is straight-forward…to collect as much money as possible in as timely a manner as possible.

Being good at doing it? Tough.

Being liked while doing it? Tougher.

I love the reactions when my wife tells new acquaintances she works in Collections. I often feel like their expressions reveal one of two thoughts: “I would not want to do that” or “You must not be well-liked.”

She is good at Collections. That’s not just me saying that. Her employers have always praised her work. As well, I’ve always felt she’s even liked by some of the accounts she collects money from. As for the others, at the very least she’s respected.

Not despised, as you might expect.

She approaches her work professionally, which I believe is the main reason she’s successful. I always assumed customer contacts on the other end of her phone calls and e-mails would react more favorably to someone like her who treats their account with respect. When Covid reassigned both of us to work from home, I actually got to see her doing her job, which confirmed my assumption.

Fear not, for my wife can put the hammer down when need be. She has to collect some big amounts from some large corporations. Corporations that like to play the cash flow game, stretching out payment until the last possible day, before the status of their pending order would be called into question.

It is inevitable over time each customer she collects from slips up in some manner…misplaces invoices…can’t get payments out on a specific day as promised, etc. She has heard it all, and certainly remembers who she can trust more than others. Customers certainly remember how she handled their delays in payment, whether deliberate or not. Firmly, but fairly.

She always gives me just enough rope to “hang myself” at home…and allows the same “courtesy” for her customers.

At Christmas, people who work in Collections often are hit with the cold reality they simply aren’t as well-liked as Customer Service or Sales…or even the Management within their organization. Those departments tend to get all the tokens of appreciation from customers and suppliers during the holidays. Cookies, snacks, etc. are earmarked for them…not for Collections.

Yet, a couple of years ago on the day after Christmas, my wife received a Christmas card (she’s used to getting things late...) from one of her customer contacts. This customer would occasionally be on my wife’s “Naughty List” for bad payment behavior. But, this customer hadn’t needed product recently, were up-to-date in payments, and as a result my wife had not spoken with the contact for a good while.

The note on the inside of the card read…“I miss talking with you!”

A Christmas miracle. A Christmas card for Collections.

Collections has Christmas too.

74 thoughts on “Collections Has Christmas Too”

  1. I suspect that if I had to do that job (which I would hate and be horrid at btw) I would rather it be in the position your wife occupies- chasing after big corporations rather than individuals. Having spent time as an employee of a large corporation contracted with a second large corporation I might welcome the opportunity to let my voice be heard hounding them for payment…in a semi-respectful way…maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for a fascinating look into the world of collections. The part about large corporations holding out on payments and playing other bookkeeping games is eye-opening. Your wife’s professionalism combined with a genuine caring for others would make her a success in any profession she entered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When we had a landline, there was one guy named Craig X who would put our number down as his contact info for bills. I regularly fantasized about hunting him down n shoving our phone down his gullet.
    Thankfully, the landline days are over for us…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you mentioned landlines. A couple of days ago, we were reminiscing about the landline connections in our house. They haven’t gotten much use in the last fifteen years or so, but they’re on stand-by in case the world regresses. Craig X – not cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I worked in customer service for many years, and often wanted to hang myself with the telephone cord (back when telephones had cords). Collections ain’t no picnic, but neither is telling somebody their widget is on a slow boat from Japan and due to arrive in six weeks when their entire assembly line is down because of it.

    I guess any public-facing job is fraught with those sorts of challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to go into production meetings and have to explain that “slow boat” to everyone, confirming the material we needed wasn’t going to arrive for awhile longer, throwing the production floor into further chaos. Good times…not.

      Like

  5. It takes a versatile and open minded individual to do work like that and she’s got the goods. I appreciate people who understand the nature of whatever job they do and then work to master the details. That’s what it should be about.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so not a people person. Solitary endeavors are my domain. And yet, I have the ability to move into that persona and it is facilitated by an attitude that doesn’t sweat the interactions that don’t go swimmingly. The trick is to understand the perspective of the person you’re dealing with, best you can. Some will make it impossible but you can manage that so long as you don’t take anything personally.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The company I work for is notorious for slow pay. What they don’t get…or really don’t care is it messes with everyone especially small businesses who can’t afford 90 days after the due date. You have to be special to work in that area…my wife works for an insurance company in customer service from home…they deal with collections also…it does take a certain footwork to do that.

    “I miss talking with you!” that was classic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Her company is large enough they can “act like a bank” for a certain amount of time, but smaller organizations don’t have the luxury of waiting on getting a debt paid, because they have to pay someone, etc. That message on the card was classic!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your wife has an amazing gift. One of my first jobs was for Petco’s corporate offices, where part of my duties was collections for many of our suppliers. All I can say was that I was terrible at it with a capital T and, thankfully, was moved to return products billing, where my skills were better served. People tend to forget that common courtesy and professionalism can go a long way, as your wife is respected (and feared) in that line of work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree it is an amazing gift. Doing it for as long as she has…I would have burned out a long time ago. Watching her in action working from home, I can see and hear her courtesy and professionalism is getting more positive results than someone who would take a more confrontational approach.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s great your wife has found her niche. Does she like the old movie “Repo Man”? I always think of that movie whenever collections comes up. Which isn’t often.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had to laugh at “she’s used to getting things late…” but I admire her for approaching her job with respect for the “client.” I am glad someone treated her nicely at the holidays. Being a backroom guy for over 40 years, I understand the cookies and lunches heading to other departments.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It sounds like your wife knows her business, Bruce! It must be such a tough job though and I can definitely see why many would try and imagine themselves in her shoes and quit quite quickly. I do love that act of kindness by that one person who you don’t expect to contact you though. It must’ve made both of your days. Have a good one, Bruce!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lulu: “It’s good to be good at your job! Especially when that job involves getting money your company wouldn’t get otherwise! That has to be at least as important as sales and marketing!”
    Java Bean: “It seems like that person who misses talking to your wife could make sure they get to talk to her again soon just by buying some stuff and not paying for it!”

    Like

  12. I don’t think I’d be very good at that job, Bruce. Firmness isn’t really my forte, and when I worked in sales, I would get exasperated by huge successful organizations that made a point of never paying for anything on time. But how wonderful that your wife was not only good at her job but well-respected… and even missed! That gift was very thoughtful. She must have felt wonderful. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fascinating article. The business part of business is generally misunderstood. Dealing with clients is an art in itself. You want to keep them close even when they threaten to make an enemy of you. She will never be out of a job. Those are a particular set of skills, to quote a friendly hit man.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Indeed, it was quite nice, but we’re glad to resume the regular chaos and hunker down with winter for a while. I think we all do best with a regular routine and monitoring errant chewing on wrapping paper/decor doesn’t really fall in that category. Now I can focus on seed magazines and sprucing up the garden with each minute of extra daylight.

    Liked by 1 person

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