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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No one enjoys dealing with invoice queries, and some businesses experience queries on up to 25% of their invoices. Dealing with these queries can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when you're trying to get paid.
Putting preventative measures in place can reduce your team's time spent dealing with invoice queries and allow you to work more efficiently and effectively.
This blog post will give you seven tips to help prevent invoice queries and get paid faster. Implementing even a few of these strategies can make a big difference in your results and help you achieve your accounts receivables KPIs.
Before we get started, it's best we define our terms. An invoice query is when a client contacts you to ask for more information, clarification, and questions about their invoice.
This could be anything from "Can you provide more detail on this charge?" to "I don't believe I received the goods or services listed here."
A dispute, on the other hand, is when a client refuses to pay an invoice, usually because they believe there was an error made.
We've already written about effective (and friendly) ways to handle invoice and payment disputes, as well as seven common invoice disputes and the most common invoice disputes and how to resolve them, so today we'll be concentrating on how to deal with queries.
While invoice queries can often lead to disputes, they don't always have to. By taking the time to prevent queries in the first place, you can save yourself a lot of headaches (and money!) down the road.
Here are seven tips to help you do just that!
The best way to have your invoice queried is to send an inaccurate or incomplete invoice. To avoid this, take the time to double-check your invoices before you hit send.
This means ensuring that all of the relevant information is included, such as:
Failure to include even one of these items can result in a query, so it's important to be as thorough as possible. Every mistake you make will reflect poorly on your business and could cost you money in the long run, so it's worth taking the time to get it right.
If you're not sure where to start, follow our 7 steps to create the perfect invoice as a starting point. Just be sure to tailor your invoice to your specific business needs.
If you still need help, there are plenty of accounting software programs that can generate invoices for you. You can ensure that your invoices are accurate and professional-looking with a little effort and avoid any costly mistakes.
Automation is the key to perfecting data entry tasks that you need to be done quickly and accurately. By automating your invoicing process, you can avoid human error and get your invoices out the door faster.
The reality is that people make mistakes. And when it comes to money, even a small mistake can be costly. With automation, you can set up your system once and know that your invoices will always be accurate.
Accuracy and speed are two of the many benefits of automation. But another big benefit is that it can help you become more organized. When everything is streamlined and in one place, it's much easier to keep track of what's going on.
Plus, automating your invoicing process can free up your time so that you can focus on other aspects of your business. And who doesn't want more time in their day?
You can also save money on staffing costs by automating your invoicing process. Instead of having valuable staff members sitting at a desk inputting data, they can be working on tasks that generate revenue for your business.
Now that we've talked about the benefits of automation, let's take a look at how you can get started.
One popular automation option is to use software that integrates with your accounting system. This way, your invoices will be generated automatically based on information from your sales transactions.
There are a number of great software options available that can help you automate your invoice creation process. We recommend taking a look at FreshBooks, or Xero, both of which have handy Chaser integrations.
Whichever route you decide to go, automating your invoicing process can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.
Not all your clients are going to be happy paying by bank transfer. In fact, studies show that offering multiple payment methods can lead to an increase in sales.
Giving customers the option to make payments in installments can help make large value invoices more manageable and may alleviate concerns and queries around paying the full amount in one go.
You should also offer your clients the option to pay by credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Stripe if they prefer. This gives them the flexibility to choose a payment method that suits them and makes it more likely they’ll actually pay their invoice on time.
The best way to get paid is to give your customers the option to pay you how they want.
While it’s important to offer multiple payment methods, you also need to make sure you have a system in place to keep track of payments and invoices. This is where Chaser comes in.
By implementing payment portals to collect invoice payments, you can take payments by credit card, PayPal, or Stripe, as well as summarise all invoices for previously paid and upcoming payments in one easy-to-access place. This way, you can stay on top of your finances and avoid any missed payments or late fees.
Sending out a regular customer statement or uploading all the relevant data to a summary portal gives your customers a full view of what they owe you, as well as any payments they’ve already made.
This can help to avoid queries around invoices that have been paid, or even those that may have been missed off the statement.
It also allows customers to raise any queries they do have in one go, rather than on an invoice basis. It also gives them all information they need in one place and makes it clear what has been paid already and what has not.
Sending out customer statements on a monthly basis is advisable to avoid any invoice queries and help you get paid faster. It can also help to build your customer relationships, as it keeps them updated on what they owe you and shows that you are keeping on top of their account.
Sending out customer statements electronically is also an option to consider. This can be done through email or by providing a login to a portal where they can view their account information and make payment, or via accounts receivables tools like Chaser.
Electronic statements are often more convenient for customers as they can access them at any time and from anywhere. They also tend to be less expensive to produce than paper statements.
Payment gateways or payment portals can help with this as they summarize all paid and due invoices in one place. An online payment gateway can automate customer payments by taking payment details from them and processing the payment for you, which can save a lot of time.
Clear and concise payment terms help to ensure both you and your customer are on the same page about when payment is due.
By sharing your payment terms upfront, you can avoid any misunderstandings or queries later down the line.
Additionally, having set payment terms from the outset makes customers more likely to stick to them as they have been agreed in writing from the start, so it's a good idea to ensure your customers have signed and agreed to your payment terms before carrying out any work.
As well as sharing your payment terms before work begins, it's also a good idea to include them on every invoice.
This way, there can be no confusion about when the customer is expected to pay, and you can avoid any queries about the due date later on.
Additionally, by including your payment terms on each invoice, you make it easier for customers to reference them before asking you if there is a point they want to query.
Simply put, there's no drawback to including your payment terms on every invoice and by using the right payment terms and stating them clearly, you can get invoices paid faster.
If you're not already doing so, start including your payment terms on every invoice from today. Your customers will thank you for it (and your bank balance will too).
Bill shock is one of the main reasons customers query invoices, so it's important to be as clear as possible about any late payment fees you plan to charge before work begins.
This way, there can be no surprises when they receive the invoice, and you're less likely to get queries about unexpected charges.
If you do need to add a new fee that wasn't originally agreed upon, make sure you include a detailed explanation of why this is the case on the invoice.
Again, this will help avoid any confusion or invoice queries further down the line.
If you are planning on leveraging late payment fees to enforce your payment terms, make sure this is stated very clearly on invoices and other communications with the customer.
This should be part of your payment terms and credit control or accounts receivables policy which is shared with customers.
This way, there can be no misunderstanding about when these fees will be applied, and you're less likely to receive queries (or even complaints) about them.
Clarity is also important when it comes to the formatting of your invoices.
Make sure that the layout is consistent and easy to understand, with all of the relevant information clearly displayed.
If you include additional documentation with your invoices (such as delivery notes or purchase orders), make sure that these are clearly marked and easy to find.
If you're providing a service, it's always helpful to include some sort of evidence or supporting documentation with your invoices.
This could be in the form of project deliverables, photos, reports, etc. All you need to do is make sure that it's stated on the invoice what each item is for, so the customer can easily relate it back to the work they commissioned from you.
Not only does this help jog the memory of busy customers who may have forgotten about the work you did for them, but it also helps build trust and confidence that they are being billed correctly.
Always include inventory on invoices if materials need to be purchased and time logging if you bill on an hour-basis.
Again, this will help avoid any queries or disputes about the invoice amount later on and ensures you have evidence to back up the goods and services provided if your customer queries this further down the line.
Preventing invoice queries entirely can be difficult, but it certainly isn't impossible. Using the tips above, you should be well on your way to achieving this.
By making sure your invoices are accurate, taking advantage of the efficiency benefits of automation, and by being proactive in your approach to accounts receivables, you can avoid the majority of invoice queries and be pre-prepared with the right response in case they arise.
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