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One in every ten invoices in the UK is paid late and the sad fact is that these late payments disproportionately impact small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs in the UK are currently owed around £50 billion in unpaid invoices and the impact of these late payments can be disastrous.
Cash flow is the lifeblood of the small business and having that cash flow cut off by unpaid invoices leads to around 90 per cent of SME liquidations.
As a leader in the field of cloud credit control with more than eight years of experience in the field, we’ve helped thousands of small businesses tackle the issue of late payments.
Our automated payment reminders have helped our users collect around 80 per cent of their outstanding invoices and get them paid, on average 16-days sooner.
Our award-winning automated cloud-based platform also saves our users around 15 hours per week on credit control management tasks.
While automated email chasing using our effective email templates will get you most of the way there, there’s no getting around the fact that sometimes you’ll have to pick up the phone and ask for payment.
We’ve already offered some advice on how to avoid difficult conversations with customers on overdue invoices, but if you do need to follow up with a phone call, here are six of our most tried and tested effective scripts for credit control phone calls.
As we mentioned above, our automated payment reminders are normally enough to prod your customers into making good on their outstanding invoices, but there are certain situations where a phone call is required. We’ve outlined them below:
While the conversation scripts we’ve pulled together will help you once you’re on the call, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the call in advance.
When you actually make the call to your customer, the main thing is to understand, empathise, and negotiate with the customer.
If you go in all guns blazing, you’ll immediately put the other person on the defensive and make it harder to reach a solution to the problem.
To make things as easy for you as possible, we’ve brought together six scripts that you can use to deal with six of the most common excuses for late payment.
Customer: My apologies, I've been really busy and forgot to pay.
You: Thank you, I fully understand that can happen. Now I have you on the phone, are you in a position to make a payment now?
Customer: I’m a little tied up right now, I’ll do it today or tomorrow at the latest.
You: Not a problem, I’ve made a note in my system to reflect the promised payment and we’ll look forward to receiving it. Have a great day.
Customer: I’ve not yet paid as the invoice is incorrect.
You: I’m very sorry to hear that, could you please explain what the problem is?
Customer: (Explains issue)
---- If the customer is correct ----
You: Apologies and thank you for explaining, I’ll have that looked into right away. I’ll issue an updated invoice as soon as this has been resolved. I’ll be back in touch shortly.
---- If the customer has misunderstood ----
You: Thank you for explaining. However, there seems to have been a misunderstanding. (Explain the misunderstanding).
We’ll endeavour to make this more clear in future, however for now this invoice remains overdue. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help facilitate payment.
Customer: This is the first time I’ve received this invoice.
You: Apologies if that is the case. Could you please confirm that your email address is > customer email address here<?
Customer: Yes, that is correct.
You: Great, thanks for clarifying. We have sent emails regarding the payment of this invoice to that address, and they are all sent with an invoice copy attached. The emails were sent on >insert times and dates here<
So please do check your spam in case they’ve gone in there by mistake. With regards to this invoice, are you able to settle it now over the phone?
Customer: No, sorry, I don’t have access to my card. I’ll put it on this Friday’s run by BACS.
You: Brilliant, I’ll make a note in our system to expect payment by Tuesday when the BACS payment clears. Thank you for your time.
Customer: Unfortunately the invoice has not yet been approved by my director.
You: Sorry to hear that, I appreciate that these things are sometimes out of your control. Has there been a query with the invoice for it to be left unapproved?
Customer: Not to my knowledge, no.
You: In that case, is it possible to request that it be approved today? The invoice is now overdue. If your director has any queries at all, feel free to have her contact me by phone or email.
Customer: She’s not in the office right now but I’ll do my best to reach her.
You: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’ll check back in with you soon. All the best.
Customer: I’m not in the office right now so I can’t make payment.
You: Not a problem, I understand you must be busy. We can accept card payment over the phone if that would make things easier?
Customer: No, sorry, I’m driving. I should be back in the office tomorrow. I’ll make the payment then.
You: Thanks for that, we really appreciate it. I’ll make a note on our system to expect payment then. Have a nice day.
Customer: Why are you calling me? I’ve already paid for this invoice!
You: My apologies, I’ll check our system and see why this wasn’t marked as paid and make sure it doesn’t happen in future. Do you know when this was paid?
Customer: Sometime last week, I believe.
You: Thank you, I’ll look into this right away for you. I’m sorry to disturb you. Have a nice day.
While our call scripts are a great way to overcome the six most common excuses for non-payment and move towards getting the situation resolved, having effective credit control in place is normally the best way to avoid late payments.
For more information on how to optimise your accounts receivable processes, and put an end to late and inconsistent customer payments, download our ultimate guide to accounts receivable.