It’s “the problem of the rock”. A customer has refused to pay and, in doing so, has just dropped a big, fat dispute in your lap. That’s the rock balancing on your knees. Your receivable is in now jeopardy. Maybe you won’t get paid. What happens next? It’s a worry.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you can’t just pick up the phone, call your client – whom we’ll call “Mr. Rockmeister” — and say: “Listen, Rockmeister, you owe what you owe, so pay up!” That’s not going to fly. No way. It’s not that easy.
In the previous post, I asked you to look at a customer relations landscape where the client is in the right and the rock is a legitimate objection that needs to be dealt with. Now, let’s do a 180 and take other position — the hair-on-fire view. In this scenario, Mr. Rockmeister is wrong. Dead wrong. Wrong in refusing to pay, and wrong in platforming a meritless, malicious or mistaken grumble. The Rockmeister’s rock exists to break your will and make you walk away from your cash. Not very sporting.
What do you want here? You want to get paid. And if at all possible, you want to keep the customer, too. Good plan. But if you want your plan to work, what you can’t rely on now is a he-said-she-said encounter over the phone or in a fleet of angry emails. Precious little will be proven or gained by the counterpoint of charge and counter-charge. No cash will voluntarily change hands in your direction.
If the text of a vendor-client conversation consists of lobbing verbal mortars that say “no, I didn’t” and “oh, yes, you did”, that won’t buy bupkis at the A&P (although it may run up your long-distance bill and raise your blood-pressure.) That’s because verbal argument has efficacy only when it’s backed up by hardcopy. Documentation. Documents with details. Documents with signatures. Substantive email strings can serve the same purpose. It’s all about proof, certainty and what the law allows. ”Paper wraps rock.” That’s what you’re aiming for.