We don’t like it when someone wants to speak to our boss. It implies that we do not have sufficient authority, knowledge or skill to handle the situation. Maybe we don’t but we still don’t like to hear the demand: let me speak to your boss.
There is no reason to expect anyone on the other end of our collection call will appreciate it either.
We want to maintain or develop a good relationship with the folks from the dark side (Accounts Payable) but you should take the relationship ‘to the next level’ on two occasions: when the person you are dealing with can’t or won’t resolve the debt.
They are being held back from payment of the debt by their company policy or practice. Your terms might be 15 days, but they pay in 45. In some cases it may not be a general policy but funds are short that month and instructions from the boss or the finance department are ‘no further payments till next month’.
Maybe they are new to the job or perhaps they have been there way too long. They are in over their head and don’t know how to handle the task or their time. They should be able to resolve according to the terms agreed, but here you are with a past due account – again.
In either case, even when an individual may be totally incompetent, speaking to their boss can feel or be seen sometimes as being a complainer or a tattletale. In both cases, as in so many other areas of effective collection communication, it is a combination of what AND how you say it.
“If you have a policy or a practice that is holding your firm back from making payment, then perhaps you and I can’t resolve the issue. Maybe my boss or even the person she reports to should be talking to someone else at a senior level at your firm. Do you think that would be a good idea?
(Followed up by: Who would be the best person to talk to and when is the best time to reach him?)
“As best as I can tell Larry, there doesn’t seem to be a policy holding up payment. It is not my intention to make your life more difficult but my next approach to resolving this account may be to take this to a higher level within your organization. What do you think might work best, having your boss call me within an hour or putting me thru to him right now?”
Pithy quote of the month:
“When I was little, I’m gonna’ tell mom, was the scariest sentence ever!”
 Lots of names, none of them pleasant: stool pigeon, stoolie, grass, rat, shop, give you up, fink, inform, whistle blowing, caveat rattus (some liberties with the Latin).