By Dean Kaplan+
This is the final article in our four part series about collection agencies, credit departments, and internal customer satisfaction. In the last article, we discussed three methodologies to determine what the internal customers’ expectations and needs are from the credit department. These methodologies included one-on-one conversations with all internal customers, meetings with groups of internal customers, and the use of a written customer satisfaction survey. This final article in the series will look more closely at how to develop the written customer satisfaction survey.
When developing your internal customer satisfaction survey, you should be collecting data from your internal customers relative to the credit department’s performance in three key areas: technical expertise (i.e. is the credit department performing satisfactorily in managing, reporting and controlling credit risk, successfully collecting from delinquent external customers, applying cash remittances quickly and accurately, and resolving customer deductions and cash discounts), performance of tasks within the bigger context of the organization as a whole, and the credit department’s understanding of the industry, economy and technology.
The area of technical expertise refers to expertise in the key functions performed by the credit department. The credit department should have established processes in place to manage credit risk. Survey questions could include how the credit worthiness of new clients is determined, how marginal accounts are handled, what factors are used to revise credit for future orders, how economic and market conditions affect the handling of credit, etc.
The survey should also include questions about the reports distributed by the credit department relating to credit risk and accounts receivable status. Are the internal customers of the credit department receiving the information they need to do their jobs, is the information received in a timely manner, and is the information accurate?
Survey questions about accounts receivable collections should come next. If the credit department has hired collection agencies to assist with debt collections, the performance of the collection agency should be measured here as well as the internal debt collectors. Reports of the status of debt collections should be addressed here also. The content, timeliness and accuracy of the reporting should be included.
When cash remittances are received, this information needs to be sent out to internal customers immediately. Are the cash remittances posted promptly? Are reports relating to cash remittances timely and accurate, and is the information presented in a way that is helpful and informative to the internal customers?
Keeping track of and responding to customer cash discounts and deductions can be a nightmare. The survey should ask if the credit department’s handling of these discounts and deductions is timely and reported in an understandable format. Develop questions to determine if any improvements need to be made in handling or reporting.
Questions relating to how the credit department operates within the organization overall might include questions about the responsiveness to requests for customer credit investigations, timeliness of credit decisions, and supportiveness to the reporting needs of internal customer departments. Tailor these questions to glean the information the credit department needs to make positive changes where needed.
Finally, the survey might include some questions pertaining to the credit department’s knowledge of the industry, the economy or technology as they relate to the credit department’s interactions with its internal customers. For example, it might be helpful for the credit department to know that some of its staff is not well-versed in the technology being used by the company. This might point out the need for further training.
Development of an internal customer satisfaction survey is not simple, but it does not need to be overly complex or lengthy. Determine what your internal customers need and expect from the credit department, and write your questions to glean measurable data about these areas. If your questions are specific enough, the information collected should help you fine-tune your credit department’s operations to be more efficient and provide excellent customer satisfaction to all internal customers.
Click here to go to the first article in the series if you happened to miss it Collection Agencies Working For Credit Departments. Click here if you missed the third article Collection Agencies And Internal Customer Satisfaction.
The Kaplan Group is a boutique collection agency specializing in large (over $10,000) debt collections due from businesses. Founded in 1991, the company has a stellar reputation (A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau) and is recognized as one of the leading collection agencies for results on large and complex matters.