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.
We get that writing invoice follow up emails from scratch is time-consuming and difficult, or that existing payment chasing email templates are ineffective or no longer have impact due to overuse. We understand that some customers reply venomously, ambiguously, or simply not at all. Then you have your clients who are always paying late no matter what..until you read this guide, of course.
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. These 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!
Before an invoice is due
Before an invoice is due, there’s only one job you need to focus on doing - ensuring the conditions are right 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 undertake is politely inquiring if everything is on track for the customer to make payment by the due date.
This 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.
Reminding customers about multiple invoices? You can see Chaser’s full guide of all 8 most effective email templates for getting invoices paid, including how to handle multiple invoices, here.
A clear and concise subject line works wonders. With most inboxes limiting the subject line to just a few words, it’s imperative that say as much as you can with as little text as possible. Couple this with the consideration 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 to hit the sweet spot. It lets the recipient know precisely who (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 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:
The amount owed
The invoice reference number
The due date
Finally, just as the email was topped with well wishes, it’s equally nice 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 it prevents 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.
In the early days after an invoice is overdue, you no longer just 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.
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 expressed 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.
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When an invoice is late overdue
If you’ve chased a customer repeatedly for an overdue unpaid invoice without any luck, it’s time to change your accounts receivable tactics.
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.
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.
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 goes 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.