One of the worst conversations to have with a customer is asking for an outstanding payment. It’s uncomfortable having to discuss financial issues with someone that you barely know. It can also be frustrating because you may hear some crazy, off the wall responses that catch you off guard. What most people don’t realize is there is a tactic and strategy to talking to your customers about overdue payments. It’s a skill that you can learn and get better at with practice, allowing you to collect faster and skip over those awkward and frustrating conversations.

Below we have some tips to help you learn how to ask customers for outstanding balance payments.


Specific questions require specific answers. Only asking questions that leave space open for “yes” or “no” won’t give you any insight into when you can expect payment and allows the customer to evade setting a deadline. Ask them what is holding them up, when they will have their finances in order and set a deadline based off of their specific answers. For example:


Why are you having trouble getting the payment in on time?


We’re waiting for our customer to pay us, in order to pay you.


When will your customer pay you?


Next Wednesday


Okay, I will expect payment to arrive from you next Thursday.


Even if you are just talking to a customer on the phone, the way you present your voice and choice of words can make a difference in whether the customer will take you seriously or not. Make sure that your voice conveys authority, without becoming monotone or sounding like you’re reading off a script (even if you are!). Keep your body position in good posture, you will be surprised how much this will change your tone of voice and confidence throughout the phone call. Finally, make sure you remain professional throughout the entire phone call.


When you’re talking to a customer about outstanding payments, you have to be prepared for anything. If you’re expecting to get a crazy response, you will be able to respond quickly with a great answer instead of sounding like you have no clue what to do with them. Even if you receive an excuse that makes your jaw drop, still get a firm date that you can expect payment by.


Take notes when you’re talking to customers about outstanding payments, and let them know you are. Some customers may not take seriously the date you set for them to make their payment by. Let them know that you have put the new payment date in the system and will be following up with them. If they know it is documented and saved they know you mean business.

You have to remain calm and stay professional through every call, and although it may take some time before the shock wears off from crazy excuses, you will get better over time. Practicing these tips will help you learn how to effectively ask customers for outstanding balance payments and get them to take the deadlines you set seriously.