The 4 most effective email templates to follow up on outstanding invoices
Email is an incredibly effective tool for credit control. Here at Chaser, we’ve seen that ...
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Sending your customers a payment confirmation is an incredibly powerful manoeuvre that all businesses should be doing. This is because this type of ‘confirm receipt’ can be used to thank them for their payment, which is an almost panacea in your credit control arsenal. Indeed, a cleverly crafted confirmation where you acknowledge payment and thank your customer for it can have positive impacts in a whole range of areas.
From encouraging future timely payment to eliciting further sales, the humble payment confirmation with thanks is a tool every elite finance team today is leveraging to beef up their credit control.
We're about to blitz through four ways you can use payment confirming with thanks emails as a means to achieve your ends. Strap in and prep yourself, it's that time of the week again - time to tune up your credit control.
Table of contents
You know the value of sending email confirmations with thanks by now - Chaser's credit control experts have touched on it more than once in some examples of our other blogs. In case you need a quick refresher, we've got you sorted.
Whenever your customers make a payment, you should inform them that you have received it and be thanking them for the payment, whether it was on time or not. The benefits are deceptively simple - not only does it create a great first impression, but it bolsters the customer relationship and encourages timely payment in future. In no way can it harm, so make sure you're at least emailing off a quick payment confirmation with thanks every time an invoice is paid.
One very important thing to note is that payment confirmation with thanks emails is largely effective in consistency. If your finance team is still running outdated, manual credit control practices, you open yourself up to the huge risks of forgetting to send your payment confirmation emails with thanks within 24 hours of payment being received or forgetting to send them entirely. The benefits gleaned from sending email confirmations with thanks can be entirely undone by an inconsistent send rate. Thankfully, automated payment confirmation with thanks emails is just one example of many benefits automated credit control offers your business - something you should be looking into immediately. All finance teams should be automating credit control by now
Thanking customers for multiple payments at once? Take a look at Chaser's best practice templates PDF guide, which is ready-made to be copied and pasted into your emails.
You might've read tip 1 and thought “Why should I send payment confirmation emails with thanks to the bastards that just paid me late?” A well-asked, if not vulgar, question. Chaser's credit control experts have actually written an entire post on bad-paying customers.
If your small business is regularly struggling with customers paying late, it may be worthwhile distinguishing your good and bad payers using data from Chaser's framework, which shows how follow-ups can be adjusted accordingly for each type of payer, to maximise your chances of future successful payment.
The long and short of this is; if the customer in question very rarely pays you late, they're not a bad payer. No good can come of harassing them for a late payment here or there. Anything could have happened on their end, potentially out of their control, and they're not so poorly self-aware that they don't know they messed up. Sending them payment confirmation emails with thanks in this situation goes a long way in showing them good faith - you're showing them that you recognise they're a good and valued customer, and this can only come back to reward you, whether it's prompt payment in future or continued business loyalty.
If the customer in question regularly pays you late, they'll be thrown off guard if you send payment confirmation emails with thanks. With their walls down and their guilt at an all-time high, you can positively influence them to pay more promptly in the future.
If they have no further outstanding invoices with you, close out your letter or write a confirmation email with something like this:
“... really excited to continue doing business with you, but I noticed we weren't quite able to get there with this invoice being paid on time. Is there anything we can do in future that will help?”
The positive framing of excitement to continue doing business, coupled with the light touch response on the issue (notice we're not accusing them), goes a long way in getting the message across without them throwing their defences back up.
If they do have further unpaid overdue invoices with you, you can instead opt to request that they be paid soon with something like:
“Thank you for the payment of invoice X! Where are we with invoice Y?”
This provides you with a natural conversational segue so that you can broach the topic of further unpaid invoices without turning accusatory, which will do little to help you as they throw their defences up.
It's no secret - direct debit can often be a far superior option to selling on payment terms. For the seller offering users it as a payment method, they can benefit from healthier cash flow (invoice always paid on time), time savings and happier customers (less admin time spent on payments on both sides).
But, like any payment method, it does have its limitations. If you want to best leverage direct debit, the next steps are to offer it when your customer:
Basically, these criteria identify situations where paying invoices by direct debit will improve customer experience and outweigh your customer's potential benefit of increased cash flow flexibility (from them retaining control of when payment is made).
If you confirm that a customer or website you sell to on payment terms is suitable for direct debit, tack on a line at the end of your ‘Thanks for Paying' email explaining:
Chaser's direct debit feature would be an excellent option for you and your business if you're looking to have your customers set up on direct debit.
One of Chaser's innovative customers, who has kindly shared the link to their template below, closes out their thank you for payment emails with a soft push for further sales. If your customer is coming to the end of a positive buying experience with you (something your thank you email will help with), contacting them and innocuously offering up the option for their next purchase can work wonders in securing future business.
Note that anything inside the italicised [square brackets] is a placeholder that is replaced with the essential details and pertinent information for the specific customer and invoice in question, such as:
You should also always make sure to include a clear subject line as well. This will prevent your payment confirmation email from being mistaken for spam, which means it could get ignored.
[Your business' name]: invoice [invoice reference number]
EMAIL BODY TEXT: Hi [recipient-first-name],
I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that we have received your recent payment in respect of invoice [invoice reference number]. Thank you very much. We really appreciate it.
If you would like to re-order please call **** **** **** or email *****@********.com
[Sender's first name]
For best results, make the experience as frictionless as possible, offering the easiest and most direct path to ordering (in the above case, a phone number and email address).
When you're making repeat sales or taking on new customers, check you have received these 4 key pieces of information you need to ensure any future invoice chasing is as effective and efficient as possible.
There you have Chaser's four best ways to take advantage of payment confirmation with thanks emails. For every invoice, you should at the very least be following tip1. This will give you a solid baseline, one that every elite finance person and team today is on.
But, you should always be keeping an eye out for suitable situations in which to employ tips 2 through 4. With these, over time you'll see a healthier cash flow, fewer bad payers, less wasted admin time, and potentially increased sales.
Not bad for one quick email, right?
To improve your credit control even further, download Chaser's full pdf file of the 8 most effective templates for getting invoices paid on time. Tried and tested by Chaser, and purpose-made to be copied and pasted into your emails, these templates can help you get your invoices paid quicker.
For best practice guidance and details on how to optimise your business' credit control function, including thanks for paying emails, see the Ultimate Guide to Accounts Receivable blog. Covering everything from the key cornerstones of your accounts receivable procedure, when, how and why to conduct credit checks on your customers and distinguishing good and bad payers.
To discover other ways Chaser can help streamline your accounts receivable process, see our products and services, or get in touch with Chaser's team now.
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