GPI 355 – When customers short pay their checks, you have a problem so call them now!

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If your firm grants credit to customers, you will normally expect to receive those subsequent payments within a few weeks either electronically, through a bank lock box, personally dropped off or in the daily mail.  Payments are received every day and typically scanned and deposited, taken to the bank and ignored until someone eventually applies them to the open accounts receivable aging.  This is a wrong approach to incoming deposits.  Here are a few suggestions to help customer relations, mend customer service problems and increase your response time to customers you need for your continued livelihood.

Actions to take when deposits arrive:

  • Invoice order? Scan deposit the checks immediately and pass them off to someone assigned to verification of invoices paid in chronological order.
  • Short-paid? Check all deposit amounts to ensure they are complete and not short-paid.  If so, is it price, quantity, quality control failures? Look for paperwork attached to support the customer’s claim.
  • Missed invoices? Check to ensure that all invoices were paid in numerical or chronological order and there are no missing invoices that went unpaid.  When a customer misses paying an invoice, it normally stems from not receiving your invoice.  Call the customer now to ask if they need a copy of the missing invoice. Ask if it is ‘on hold’ or unable to be paid for any reason.
  • Debit Memos? For all incoming deposits with attachments, check all inclusions for debit memos (chargebacks to you, the vendor).  Where customers have debited your company, make certain the assigned sales representative clears up the problem with the customer.  Your sales rep needs to always be the guy that can solve your customer’s problems or complaints, not the accounting office.
  • Quick response? Your customer was mad enough to short pay an invoice and not call your firm ahead of time.  Someone specifically made the decision not to pay the invoices and mail your firm a short check.  When you detect this shortage, somebody in your organization needs to call to calm the situation, apologize for the reason the customer short-paid and what can be done to quickly remedy the situation.

Look for shortages immediately in your daily deposits. Short-pays are not customers’ problems. They are your problems. They rarely indicate customers’ difficulty paying bills. The majority of time they reflect various problems stemming from within your company. This is why you need to react quickly to missing invoices or invoices purposely paid short. You have a customer problem and it is your turn to recover this account.

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