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Visiting Customers
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

Customer visits are time consuming and expensive. These visits can offer the credit manager valuable insights about the customer. To make them more productive, consider these ideas:

  • Always make an appointment. Don't show up unexpectedly and uninvited [unless the entire reason for the visit is to try to extract payment from the customer]

  • Confirm the appointment in writing

  • Confirm your appointment again the day before the meeting by telephone

  • Inform the sales department of your plan to visit the customer - and ask if there are any issues that sales would or would not like you to discuss

  • Send an agenda of issues you want to cover

  • Invite the customer to send you a list of issues they would like to discuss

  • Review the account file just before you go in

  • Make sure you know you negotiating authority limits before you visit the customer

  • Since you are a guest, be on your best behavior

  • If the person you are scheduled to meet with is unavailable and you are offered the opportunity to meet with a subordinate instead, keep the meeting brief and try to reschedule with the decision maker

  • If you need updated financial statements, a good time to ask for them is during a personal visit. It is much harder to say no face to face than it is over the telephone

Some customers see personal visits by the credit manager as an insult or a threat. Do everything you can to convince the customer that your visit is not intended to be either a threat or an insult to them or their business.

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