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Email is an incredibly effective tool for credit control. Here at Chaser, we’ve seen that approximately 80% of unpaid invoices can be successfully collected through email chasing alone. As powerful as that is, a shocking number of finance teams don’t keep their email sword sharpened and are likely to see drastically subpar success with their credit control.
Common unpaid invoice email aberrations include an unfriendly tone, the appearance of automation/lack of humanity, an aggressive or judgemental approach to overdue invoices, and even chasing payments from the wrong person entirely.
We get that writing invoice follow-up emails from scratch is time-consuming and complex, or that existing payment chasing email templates are ineffective or no longer have a good impact due to overuse. We understand that some customers reply venomously, ambiguously, or simply not at all. Then you have your clients who are constantly paying late no matter what. That is.. until you read this guide, of course.
Before an invoice is due
Forget that - those problems are a thing of the past. Today we’re sharing our 4 most effective email templates to chase for payment and get your invoices paid, and if you’re looking for more, then check out our extensive list of email templates. These templates enable businesses to mitigate risks highlighted in insights drawn from data provided by leading account software and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Chaser shows how exactly to get late-paying customers to pay. These resources are where you’ll learn how to create an effective overdue invoice reminder email. All account managers need to know how to write an email to customers for payment without coming across as rude.
These four templates are our own strong, tried and tested, best practice template samples, which are the default for our Chaser users. Give them a try - you’ll be pleased with the results! If you’re looking for a downloadable set of templates to copy and paste, you can access all 8 of our tried and tested, most effective email templates in this free PDF guide.
Before an invoice is due, there’s only one job you need to focus on doing - ensuring the conditions are suitable for your customer to be able to make payment. Outside of credit control best practices like raising and issuing invoices as close as possible to the sale date, the only other task you need to undertake is politely inquiring if everything is on track for the customer to make payment by the due date.
This method not only ensures your invoice is fresh in their mind and harder to “forget” to pay; it also goes a long way in building and maintaining a great working relationship.
Our best practice chasing payment email template for this situation is as follows.
Note that anything inside the italicised [square brackets] is a placeholder that you should replace with the appropriate information for your specific overdue invoices.
The objective here is Relationship building using polite methods for requesting payment via an invoice reminder/polite payment reminder email; this is our polite email to ask for payment.
Need help with reminding customers about multiple invoices? Need help with reminding customers about multiple invoices? You can see Chaser’s full guide of all 8 of the most effective email templates for getting invoices paid, including how to handle numerous invoices when you download the guide on best-practices here.
A clear and concise subject line works wonders. With most inboxes limiting the subject line to just a few words, it’s imperative to say as much as you can with as little text as possible. Couple this with the considerations of how many emails your recipient receives per day. You’re fighting a battle to get your email noticed and actioned.
Our testing has found the combination of your business name, and the invoice reference number is required to hit the sweet spot. It lets the recipient know precisely who’s communicating (in this case, your business’ name) and what this email refers to.
In the body of the email, an opening line of well wishes is a nice way for both you and your recipient to check yourselves and serves as a reminder that you’re both fellow humans just trying to do their jobs. As a bonus, it’ll help lower any defensive guard they might have in place and help you towards achieving a mutually agreeable outcome.
The rest of the email is clear and concise, much like the subject line. Framing the inquiry as casual (here, “just wanted to drop you a quick note”) goes a long way to dial down the formality and diffuse any potential to be interpreted as harassing them about payment. Remember to cover off:
Finally, just as the email was topped with well wishes, it’s equally appropriate to tail it with a polite inquiry about the progress of the invoice’s processing (here, “I would be really grateful”). Articulating your inquiry, as such, works wonders in building a friendly rapport with your customer and helping future invoices get paid quickly and easily.
Before you send this, don’t forget to attach a copy of the invoice. If they already have it readily on hand, no harm done, but this method prevents things from getting held up by claims of “oh, I never received that invoice…”, should they arise. Of course, if you’re emailing them about multiple invoices, attach a customer statement as well.
If you’re chasing new customers for payments, see the '4 questions you must ask new customers in our Ultimate Guide to Accounts Receivable.
In the early days after an invoice is overdue, you no longer want to politely nudge your customer to see if payment is on track. You should still be polite, of course, but your goal is now to get a payment date agreed as soon as possible.
Here at Chaser, we offer the following template.
The objective here is positively but firmly communicating that there are outstanding payments due, and this is a proven method of getting overdue payments paid. This overdue invoice reminder/outstanding payment reminder email is an unpaid or overdue payment reminder email sample.
It follows many of the principles outlined for our Before Due email template. One key difference is the ask for when payment can be expected. This puts the (light) pressure on them to reply to you, as you’ve asked for a piece of information rather than just expressing the problem of the invoice being unpaid. It also pushes them to define a timeframe within which they will pay, creating another “promise” (beyond the original invoice) that they will be inclined not to break, lest they want to develop a reputation for being unreliable.
As with Before Due, remember to attach a copy of the invoice to again prevent getting held up by claims of “oh, I never received that…” (remembering to include a customer statement if emailing about multiple invoices).
We recommend Early Overdue emails are sent at a frequency of once every 1-2 weeks so that you project credit control competence to your customer but without harassing them.
If you’ve chased a customer repeatedly for an overdue unpaid invoice without any luck, it’s time to change your accounts receivable tactics.
If customer invoices are regularly becoming late, and you have overdue as the norm, it may be worthwhile distinguishing your business' good and bad payers. Follow-ups can be adjusted and tailored accordingly for each group to maximise your chance of prompt payments.
The best practice email template continues to try and achieve the goal of Early Overdue (getting a payment date agreed). The differentiators are letting the customer know late payment is not okay and adding an element of urgency to payment reminders.
The objective here is to show how best to respond to overdue invoices using our
overdue payment reminder email sample; it serves as a strong mail for overdue payment and offers an effective solution on how to follow up on overdue invoices in a professional manner.
You can see that, along with the other templates so far, this still shares the core principles of clearness, conciseness, and politeness. Letting the customer know late payment is not okay is achieved with the line describing the late payment as “becoming really problematic for us.” This taps into your customer’s guilt about paying late but without getting aggressive or attacking them. Doing the latter will only put them on the defensive and not help you achieve a mutually agreeable outcome at all, not to mention sour the relationship.
The element of urgency is very literally spelled out in the body with the line “as a matter of urgency,” as well as made very clear with an “OVERDUE” in the subject line.
Again, remember to attach a copy of the invoice to prevents getting held up by claims of “oh, I never received that…”, should they arise, including a customer statement if emailing about multiple invoices.
When an invoice is paid
Whether it was early, on time, or two weeks late, when a customer pays an invoice, you should be sending them “thanks for paying” emails. The impact can only be positive - they’ll either feel guilty about their late payment from your polite handling of it and endeavour to pay earlier in future. Or they’ll appreciate you recognising them paying in a timely manner, reinforcing the relationship and ensuring future payments remain timely
We recommend the following template for thanking your customers.
The objective here is to do relationship-building and encouraging positive behaviour by appreciating clients while also being firm. This email template is thank you for payment message sample.
As with all our above templates, the Thanks For Paying template follows many of the same core principles, such as clearness, conciseness, and politeness. This set of templates go an enormously long way to building a great relationship with your customers and helping you get paid sooner in future.
Tried and tested, you can access all 8 of our most effective email templates for free here.
For best practice guidance on how to optimise your business’ credit control function, see our Ultimate guide to accounts receivable blog. These guidelines will cover everything you need to know, from the fundamental cornerstones of your AR procedure, when, how and why to conduct credit checks and defines how distinguishing good and bad payers is vital.