When you’re looking to collect from a customer, you have two primary ways to get a hold of them: phone calls and email. Each method has its own nuances on the best way to approach a customer. There are different etiquette rules for each and different tricks to get your customer to respond quickly.
Below, we cover some accounts receivable tips for making phone calls and writing emails.
Generally, if you’re looking to get a hold of a customer quickly, a phone call is your best option.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE TIME YOU’RE CALLING
This is especially important if you have customers that are in a different time zone from you. If your customer is located on the west coast and you’re located on east coast, making a call to them at 8 a.m. won’t be very useful as they likely will not have even woken up yet. Additionally, making calls around the typical lunch time hours probably won’t be very effective either. If you’re hoping to actually speak with someone, pick the hours that someone will most likely be sitting at their desk.
Phone calls to customers can be frustrating. If you can tell they’re coming up with an excuse for non-payment or just being plain rude about it, it can be hard to keep your cool. However, as an accounts receivable professional, you have to. If a customer is giving you pushback, remain calm and speak in a professional tone. Explain why payment is crucial, especially if they want to remain in good standing with your business.
TRANSCRIBE AND RECORD
Many times customers will make a promise to pay over the phone, but if you don’t record and transcribe the conversation, this won’t hold much weight. Using a phone call management tool can help you to record and transcribe every call so there is visibility into every interaction with a customer.
Email is a great tool to use to reach out to customers who simply need a reminder to pay. This will give them a leg up on making payment before they go past due, and saves you time from spending all day on the phone.
IS IT THE RIGHT FORMAT
Before you send out an email, be sure that email really is the right format to be reaching out to the customer. If you realize that your email is addressing more than one issue, you may need to pick up the phone. The longer an email is, the more likely you will lose the customer’s interest and won’t get them to take action.
Being professional in an email is more work than being professional on a phone call. Obviously, you still have to remain calm during stressful situations. However, you also have to watch your grammar and spelling when writing an email. Be sure to start your email with a proper greeting and end it with a proper send off. Don’t ever use abbreviations like “u” or “ur”.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EMAIL ADDRESSES
Make sure your email addresses are correct. If you’re sending the invoices and reminders to the decision maker in the company, as opposed to the AP person, your email will likely go unanswered. Additionally, make sure you’re not CC’ing unnecessary people on the email. This could go against privacy and disclosure laws. Contact the new customer first to be sure you have the right address, and check in periodically to make sure the address you have is the correct one.