4 things you don’t want to hear about your invoices
As a credit controller, there are many difficult conversations you might need to have with customers, particularly with late payment being so common. But perhaps the most frustrating responses you get are those you receive when chasing an invoice that hasn’t been paid yet.
Here are four things you don’t want to hear about your invoices, plus the responses you can give to encourage the customer to pay as soon as possible.
1. “What invoice?”
See also, “I didn’t receive an invoice,” or “I’ve lost it”.
The complete denial of ever having seen your invoice is particularly frustrating, especially when you don’t think the customer is being genuine.
But, whilst this response is frustrating, it is easily rectified by taking a direct email address and sending a copy invoice immediately.
Always confirm receipt once it has been sent and then take the opportunity to ask for payment as soon as possible.
If you can, you should attempt to take payment over the phone whilst you have the customer on the line.
It is also worth checking how or why the invoice wasn’t received and implementing a change in your processes to prevent it from happening again.
2. “There’s a problem with it”
Unfortunately, there may be occasions when customers dispute your invoice or are not happy with the goods or services provided.
In these instances, it’s important to work quickly to resolve the dispute to receive your payment.
But, the first step you should always take is to ask for payment for any undisputed parts of the invoice.
It’s unlikely that the full amount will be disputed. By taking partial payment you can limit the disruption to your cash flow whilst you work on resolving the dispute.
3. “I can’t afford to pay it”
This is the response that no one wants to hear but, unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common.
Whilst your initial reaction to a customer not being able to pay might be despair, it’s important not to lose hope instantly as there is still a good chance you will get paid.
First, find out when the client feels that they will be able to pay and how much they are currently short by.
You can then ask them to pay some now and then agree a schedule for them to make further payments when they will have the necessary funds.
Whilst it might be disheartening to have to wait longer for the payment, it’s better to receive the money in instalments than not receive the money at all.
By showing understanding and being willing to compromise, your invoice will hopefully be the first payment they make.
4. “It’s still being processed”
There are numerous reasons your invoice could be stuck in a company’s invoicing process past its due date.
Whether it’s simply a large company taking its time or other internal complications such as sickness, holiday, system failure, fire or even a senior team member passing away, there are a few steps you can take to try and speed the process along.
First, try to find out as many details as you can.
If it’s the case of a large company passing it through various departments, find out who the right person to address it to would be to ensure it gets to the correct place as soon as possible in the future.
In the event of an absence, try to find out who can authorise the payment and when exactly they will next be available.
If it seems like payment will not be imminent, stress the importance of being paid on time and consider referring to your late payment procedure.
This could be enough to speed up the process.
If you’re regularly hearing these kinds of responses to your invoices you should review your invoicing process to see where improvements can be made.
Here are a few quick tips to improve your invoicing procedures:
- Review your invoicing template (take a look at this post on the anatomy of a successful invoice for tips)
- Where possible send invoices via email and confirm receipt via a courtesy call (Read this post for ideas of what to cover in a courtesy call )
- Make sure your terms are clear (see these 5 tips for effective terms and conditions)
- Credit check all new and existing customers to get a better idea of how likely they are to pay on time (Discover how well you know your customers here)
Do you have any more frustrating responses to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.