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.