Implementing effective credit control procedures is difficult enough as it is for most small and medium businesses (SMBs). In the UK, the average SMB is owed around £34,286 in unpaid invoices and is chasing around six unpaid invoices at any one time.
Having a customer dispute an invoice adds a whole new dimension of stress and effort to managing your accounts receivables.
Thankfully, we’ve put together some effective ways you can resolve, or even head off, disputes without putting your customer relationships at risk.
Stay on top of your records
Resolving any kind of financial dispute is a time and effort-intensive process. You’ll often need to comb back and forth through your records to find information on billable costs and agreed deliverables.
Being able to find that data quickly and efficiently is vital to keeping the time you spend resolving disputes to a minimum.
Chaser’s data hub uses automated data gathering to keep track of all your accounts receivable information. This data is all saved in one place and is easy to search. This makes finding the right data to help resolve a dispute much faster and easier.
Have transparent invoicing terms
We’ve spoken before about the importance of having an effective credit control policy in place in order to guarantee consistent cash flow. One of the most important facets of a credit control policy is making sure your invoicing terms are as clearly stated as possible.
Making sure your customers have the right information to make payment and are entirely aware of what your particular payment terms and deadlines are can head off a lot of potential problems.
Chaser’s payment portal not only offer your customers the widest range of payment options, but they also gather all the required invoicing information in one place, making it easy to communicate your terms and conditions.
Settle on costs beforehand
Clarity and transparency are usually great ways to head off any dispute before one arises.
Having an open discussion with your customer about what they expect you to provide, deadlines, and billable costs is hugely important.
Once you’ve had that conversation, it’s equally important that you follow it up with a quote or estimate. Once your customer has agreed to your proposed deliverables and the associated costs, you can refer back to that document if a dispute arises.
Be polite but still persistent
It’s easy to let a customer disputing an invoice trigger an emotional reaction. Many people get angry while others cave immediately out of fear of losing business. Before you respond to a dispute, do your homework.
Look through your records and ascertain if you have made a mistake. If you haven’t, then provide the customer with the data that proves you’re in the right. If you have made a mistake, admit to it and send a revised invoice.
Responding to customers who are refusing to pay in the wrong manner can put your business relationships at risk. Thankfully, we’ve got a range of email templates you can adapt to address the issue in a calm and professional-sounding manner.
Always try to come to an agreement
A dispute between you and your customers is not a personal attack. You may have made an understandable error, the customer might be in error, or the situation might be the result of a misunderstanding.
The best resolution to any dispute is for you and your customer to come to an amicable agreement that suits both parties.
Email should always be your primary method of communication, as it’ll give a record of what was said, but sometimes a well-placed phone call can make a real difference. It’s harder to be hard-nosed when someone is being perfectly reasonable on the phone.
If you’re struggling with what you might say during such a phone call, we do have some easily adapted scripts that might help.
Once you come to an agreement and get paid, always follow up with a thank-you email to help build your customer relationships.
Get the experts involved
If you’re really struggling with customers raising disputes and how to deal with them, you could always outsource the issue to the professionals.
Along with an award-winning credit control platform, Chaser also offers Outsourced Credit Control Services for a fraction of the cost of hiring new staff.
If the worst comes to the worst, we can also escalate the issue to our professional collections team. Our innovative take on debt collections and debt recovery means we’ll take over mediating duties between you and your customer.
We’ll make sure you get paid the money you’re owed without endangering your vital business relationship