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By Jon Swan, Head of Credit at Hachette UK

Traditionally, and over many years, the typical training for Credit and Collections staff was centred mainly around assertiveness skills and the use of the “strong” words that would (apparently) produce better cash recovery and therefore improved DSO. I firmly believe through our own experience here at Hachette that a more “service” based approach to collections will, for particular sectors, work better.

A Service Approach in Action

About two years ago we took the decision to rebrand Credit Control as Credit Services and take a different approach to our collection methods. I also brought into the team an experienced Customer Services Manager with no Credit Control experience –  and little knowledge of our profession.

We knew that by adopting such a change to a more Service based model we may negatively affect in the short term cash recovery and DSO but it was a calculated risk and one worth taking. This directly affected our objectives set for the team as well as the recruitment criteria for new staff. Gone were the absolute requirements of Credit Control experience for new starters and replaced with needs for more service based knowledge and track record.

We delivered the best DSO result for two years

In March 2017 we delivered the best DSO result for two years –  no coincidence. We have found that avoiding the more confrontational style employed traditionally in UK Credit Control behaviour we have developed improved relationships with customers particularly those who are struggling to meet their commitments and, as a consequence, once the customer pulls through the problem, an advantageous commercial position.

It is an ongoing process though and one which we continue at work hard at on a day to day basis. It may not suit some sectors but for us the conversion of Credit Control into a more service based operation is reaping rewards not just not in terms of metrics but also in terms of team morale and motivation.

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