Once again this year, several Executive Exchange Sessions at Credit Congress took on a highly interactive tone. The session on collections, like past years, drew a large crowd. One of the session's key messages involved treating collections more like an art form rather than the ham-handed approach of some firms that exclusively perform collections, but not other credit functions.
Moderator Kathleen Quill, CAE, CBA, president and COO of NACM Gulf States, noted that true credit professionals can't “go in with a chainsaw” as soon as a customer goes late. That said, a poll of credit professionals in the room found that an increasing number of delegates are adopting the standard practice of charging their customers a late fee when a debt goes 31 days beyond terms. While some wondered if this could be seen as discrimination, panelist Bob Bernstein, Esq., Bernstein Law Firm PC, tried to ease such concerns. “I've heard that concern, but I've never seen a case on that,” he said of the discrimination issue. “In most states, you are allowed. It is spelled out in the statute.
In addition, more than half of the attendees noted that are using credit risk scores to prioritize collections efforts and identify the debtors that need heightened levels of attention. “It makes sense that ones that are high risk should have more touches,” said panelist Mark Woolnough, CCE, CPA, O'Neal Steel, Inc., “We expect this kind of risk-based approach will help drive us to the next level.”
- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer