The first communication you have with your customer after an invoice becomes past due can be crucial to your overall collection success. How do you get your point across without creating uncomfortable tension and creating a wall between you and your customer? Your first contact with a customer after the invoice becomes past due is not about demanding payment, it’s about figuring out why you have not received it. Here are 5 ways you can make your early accounts receivable collection communications more successful.

1. Don’t let emotion get into your tone- smile then dial! Even if you are upset or frustrated with their late payment, a smile on your face truly does turn into a smile in your tone.
2. Ask if there was anything wrong with the invoice or a specific reason the payment was not made- is there something you can do to fix the problem?
3. If you choose to call for your first communication, be sure to follow up with an email that sums up your conversation, next steps, promises made, etc.
4. Never use judgment in your language or tone.
5. Always be polite, direct, and professional.

Never say anything threatening, do not start talking legal ramifications or anything of that nature this early in the game. Of course, as time goes on and the invoice becomes increasingly late, you will need to become more demanding, but for this first call keep things light, make sure everyone is on the same page and has all of the correct information needed to finish this transaction.

Some accounts receivable collection communication actions you can take if they continue to delay payment include:

  • Calling them 1-2 times a week until they pay or send email reminders- not too often to escalate the tension though.
  • Increase the demanding tone of your messages but do not get overly aggressive. Remind them of due dates, how far past due they are currently, promises made and broken, etc.
  • Use SMS message reminders, sending them a notification straight to their cell phone
  • Send an email and promptly call the customer to ensure they received the email
  • CC other contacts from the company so more eyes will be on it