Customer hasn’t paid their invoice? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that they don’t want to pay – but that isn’t always true….
#1: Give customers the benefit of the doubt
If your invoice should have been paid by now but it hasn’t, take a deep breath before sending a payment reminder or calling to demand payment. If you haven’t spoken to your customer since sending the invoice, there could be legitimate reasons why the invoice hasn’t been paid.
For example, the invoice may have gone to the wrong person. In fact, a staggering 49% of invoices are sent out with incorrect information on them, including being sent to the wrong address.
So make a ‘customer care’ call rather than a ‘collections’ call. Confirm that your customer has the invoice and that it’s correct before asking for payment.
#2: Have the conversation before sending a payment reminder
Be different. Have a nice conversation with your customer and build a business relationship with them. It’s worth remembering that ‘people pay people’ so it makes sense that if people like you they pay you.
Pick up the ‘phone and start talking to your customer. Ask them if they are satisfied with your service or delivery. If they are satisfied, remind them that it’s time to pay. I used this strategy in my small business to get our invoices paid on time. It’s one of the best collection strategy tips ever. Use the ‘phone and get to know your customer.
#3: Would you pay an incorrect invoice?
No, of course not and hardly anyone will. The thing is though that people often drag their feet about resolving a query on an invoice.
In my business, we did everything possible to resolve a query the same day. Customers thought we were very professional and service oriented.
It was in our interest to resolve queries fast so we got our invoices paid but it made us look like customer service super-stars!
#4: Own the problem
Regardless of whose error it is, it’s in your interest to resolve it quick-smart. You almost certainly won’t get paid until the problem is resolved so make it your mission to find a solution whatever the problem is.
The sooner your customer is satisfied, the sooner you’ll be in a position to remind them when the invoice is due for payment. If you go through the whole ‘query resolution’ process with a helpful attitude, your customer will get to like you because everyone loves great service. If your customer likes you, your invoice will be much more likely to go to the front of the payment queue without another payment reminder
#5: Information is liberating
In the words of Kofi Annan: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating”.
Before sending a payment reminder, or calling your customer to remind them to pay their account, just check their file and check with your colleagues to make sure there’s no known reason for non-payment.
The last thing you’ll want to do is to ask for payment of an invoice and be told that one of your colleagues is already aware of an outstanding problem. It’s worth checking before you make your call.
#6: Service with a (BIG) smile please
It’s odd that good service is rare because it doesn’t cost anything and it has a doubly-beneficial effect. It makes both the giver and the receiver feel good.
When we receive good service we feel special and, most people like to help others so when we give good service we get a lift too. But it’s rare.
To stand out in the crowd, make a habit of giving great service to your customers. Your customer will get to like you and trust you, and when they do, you can be sure they will pay your invoices first. You would do the same, wouldn’t you?
#7: Ask the right person the right thing
Asking the wrong person to pay your invoice is a waste of time.
Depending on the size of the company you are supplying, you might have to navigate your way through a few different people to get your payment. Take government departments for example. You might have to go through one person to get the invoice authorised for payment and then another to make the payment.
Don’t give up; it’s just the way large organisations work. Keep going until payment reaches you.
How do you chase payment of outstanding invoices? What strategies do you use to get invoices paid on time without upsetting your customers? Is sending payment reminders one of them?
How many of your customers don’t pay you on time? Let me know – I’m here to help you get paid!
To your business success!