Insight into the role of a Credit Controller
Written by Lhoujerra Buczko, Credit Controller, September 2017.
Being new to this country and to this industry was a challenge I accepted when I joined Corona Energy’s Credit Management Team in February 2017. It was a mix of emotions – excitement and worry. Excitement, simply because this is my first job experience in the country and worry, as for the first time I would be working and mingling with people who came from different cultural backgrounds.
However, I am pleased to say that I was welcomed and I had a sense of belonging to a friendly team which helped my integration within the company. Having no background in utilities, I see the company exerting efforts in facilitating training in terms of industry awareness which is beneficial for a newbie like me. I have learned the basic concepts of how the gas and power industry work in UK.
My first few weeks were a roller coaster ride, I was still in a process of exploring how to use the system efficiently and at the same time attending to customers’ queries. It took me a while before I felt comfortable in ensuring that I could get on with my job. My seven years of experience in debt collections have made it easier for me in terms of talking to customers over the phone and getting payments on overdue accounts.
The job of a credit controller is not an easy role, it is more than simply calling and chasing payments. Every person in the team has approximately 1,500 customers to communicate with, ensuring that payments are being collected on a regular basis and keeping the integrity of the sales ledger. We work against tight deadlines, which although most customers would pay on the first phone call, others may take months of chasing which requires a lot of patience, consistency and persistency.
My day to day activities mainly involve making direct contact with customers via telephone, emails and letters. I liaise with other departments to ensure customer queries are resolved in a timely manner and this helps in the collection process. Scheduling and prioritising helps me manage my daily tasks effectively. I start my first hour of the day checking emails and responding to any queries, making best use of my time as customers are not available for calls this early in the morning. Then I look at scheduled follow up calls for the day. This helps me work on one account after the other much quicker, working on the account only when someone answers the phone. Due to this process, I can easily identify which customers I would need to contact again at a later time or the next day.
The most challenging part of being a credit controller is knowing when to be assertive or empathic. You require good negotiation skills, ability of overcoming objections and creating that sense of urgency in getting the account paid in the soonest possible time. A phone call usually starts in advising the customer of the account balance and requesting a payment today. This is where the objections would come in and it is important to listen actively to what the customer has to say, so you can address their concerns correctly. Objections come in various forms – financial reasons, meter readings, didn’t receive the invoice, incorrect invoices, etc. Some of these can be resolved right away and some may need a bit of time especially if it would require the involvement of another department. Through this process, I have built good relationships with colleagues within the business. I have to use my judgment on every account. One approach may not be applicable to all customers, I am still exploring and practicing what types of approach I can use on certain customers to get the best result.
With our collaboration and team effort, I am proud to say the we have reduced our bad debt provision significantly which helped us get back on track with our commercial targets. In August, the credit team made over 4,000 outbound phone calls, which made a huge impact on our cash collections. The Learning and Development Team facilitated training sessions and workshops which helped us to work more efficiently. In addition to that, I gained more confidence in myself to deliver my role.
My stay in the company for the past few months has been productive and rewarding. Every day, I learn from my managers, teammates, other colleagues in the business and most importantly I learn from my mistakes. I am looking forward to more enjoyable experiences here in Corona Energy and more exciting opportunities to come.