Dear Crabby,

Like many companies, ours has also had to let people go during these tough times, and several departments are now running on a skeleton crew. 

Up until around mid-summer of last year, I was carrying out credit functions and some high dollar collection work. Now however, I’ve been given several customer service duties that have really eaten into my normal workload. I’m now having to chase down some of the complaints with our sales and operations teams that our former customer service staff would normally have been doing. As a result, I feel like I’m getting a little careless on some credit decisions and letting several past due accounts go a few more days before I can get to them.

Although I’m actually learning more about our entire operational flow, trying to manage all three functions is naturally stressing me out. In other words, while we’re making every attempt to get ourselves back on track, I just don’t want to make any mistakes that could have a serious impact in the short or medium term. 

I spoke to my manager about the situation and all he said was, “You’re doing a great job — keep it up.” 

Crabby, I get how important it is for all us here to step up and go beyond what we normally are expected to do, but I’m also trying to balance that against not messing up on something that could have serious repercussions down the road. Any advice you have will be much appreciated. 

Signed: Too Many Hats

Dear Hats,

Delighted you wrote to me but before I share some thoughts and ideas, let me first say that I commend your spirit. Not everyone is willing and/or able to step up and take on more responsibility like you’re doing. I think that’s a wonderful reflection of your company’s trust towards you. I do hope that if the company gets back on track that your devotion will at one point be appropriately compensated. 

I don’t know:

  1. If you’re working remotely at home or commuting to your company
  2. What your technology capabilities are
  3. If some of your collection work can possibly be shared with sales or others

Working remotely may be a good option for you in terms of providing you with more time and flexibility to do your job. Naturally, by working remotely, you’ll be saving on commutation time and it may give you an additional hour or two to complete more tasks. That’s not to say that working remotely can be feasible but generally speaking, the pros outweigh the cons. Also bear in mind that I’m not asking you to work more hours without being compensated, but unfortunately when companies are struggling, the remaining team members often find themselves working more for less. 

I’m concerned about you letting those high dollar accounts not getting the proper and timely attention they require. In my view, your company needs every dollar ASAP, and every day past due only adds to the cash flow stress. I would urgently advise that all high dollar past due accounts be immediately called and followed up on. I would also encourage you to talk with your manager again and see if sales or other staff can be roped in to at least make the first call on a timely basis. 

As you realized, credit decision mistakes could have serious repercussions. If you are relying on parts of your credit duties that are manual and cumbersome, in which some inexpensive software application could provide the information to you quickly and accurately, I would move in that direction. Whatever you can do to rationalize your credit duties to provide you more time and accuracy is imperative. 

On the bright side, as stressful as this time is for you, you’re undoubtedly developing and expanding skills that you normally would not have had an opportunity to do so.

Let me know what happens. 


Dear Crabby is a credit and collection advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments ( are most welcome!

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