Sometimes we don’t feel at all confident about asking customers to pay their bills, so finding the best payment reminder strategies is essential.
Collecting overdue invoices can feel like the dreariest of all business tasks, but once you figure out what works best – having a great relationship with your customer – it becomes really rewarding (think of all that money just coming through the doors!).
I’ve made lots of good friends and had great fun while getting customers to pay their bills on time, and so can you. All you need are some good payment reminder strategies – and that’s where I can help.
I started my working life as a credit controller. After 20 years or so, I opened my own small professional services business. I had that business for 15 years and for the last 14, all our customers paid on time.
The first year was almost disastrous! I was so busy learning how to run a business that I completely forgot about getting customers to pay on time and I almost went broke.
Fortunately, the business survived, but almost running out of money was so scary that I went right ‘back to basics’. I devised a simple little system to make sure all our customers paid their invoices on time after that.
Our part-time administrator ran that little system. All our customers paid on time AND liked us too! They often gave us repeat orders, so I was able to grow the business right up to when I sold it.
Here are some of the payment reminder strategies we used:
Best payment reminder #1 – Do this before you do anything else!
I’m not saving the best for last! It’s the best piece of advice I can give you.
Get your customers to like you
If people like you, they are much more likely to pay you. “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive”. This is a quote from the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
What this marvelous book reveals is that, if you give people what they want first, they will give you what you want.
People like to be:
- Appreciated. They want to be thanked for something they’ve done or said.
- Heard. We don’t listen enough. Be a good listener.
- Acknowledged. Ask your customer a question to get them talking about themselves.
- Respected. They are entitled to their point of view even it isn’t yours.
- Given Good Service. If there are any queries or problems that need sorting out, do it fast
So you are starting by making friends with your customer. This could be fun!
How do you make friends? Start with the list above. They are all great reminders about seeing someone as a person rather than an invoice. It’s easy to forget that.
And then what do you want to do with your friends? You treat them nicely. It’s a 2-way street.
Here some more of the strategies we used to make sure we got paid on time:
Best payment reminder #2
Seek first to understand:
Make sure your customer has received what they ordered before launching into asking them to pay.
Best payment reminder #3
Use the phone rather than email:
It’s hard to build a relationship by email so it’s a good idea to learn how to ask for payment politely so you are very confident about speaking to your customer to remind them to pay.
Best payment reminder #4
Remove all excuses to pay:
Customers don’t pay invoices if there’s an outstanding query on the invoice so resolve problems fast, so the customer CAN pay.
Best payment reminder #5
Own the problem:
Make it your mission to resolve any queries. The sooner problems are resolved, the sooner your customer can pay.
Best payment reminder #6
Knowledge is power:
To be really good at something you need to know a lot about it. Before you speak to your customer and ask them to pay, get to know some history of their account.
Best payment reminder #7
Give customers great service:
Good service is rare. When we get good service, it makes us feel good. Make your customers feel good too.
Best payment reminder #8
Always do what you say you will do:
Keep your promises. This is part of getting people to like you so they’ll pay you.
Best payment reminder #9
Find the decision maker:
There’s no point reminding someone to pay your invoice if it’s the wrong person. Talk to the person who can help you get your invoice paid.
Best payment reminder #10
Keep your cool:
Reminding your customer to pay their invoice shouldn’t be a fight. It’s part of the business process. It’s just the closing end of the transaction.
Getting invoices paid on time doesn’t have to be a trial. Make it fun, and make it rewarding, by building strong relationships with your customers.
To your business success!