6 min read
Thanking your customers for paying their invoices is an incredibly powerful manoeuvre. We’re big believers in it here at Chaser HQ. An almost-panacea in your credit control arsenal, a cleverly crafted ‘Thanks for Paying’ email can have positive impacts in a range of areas. From encouraging future timely payment through to eliciting further sales, the ‘Thanks for Paying’ email is a tool every elite finance team today is leveraging to beef up their credit control.
We’re about to blitz through four ways you can use ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails as a means to achieve your ends. Strap in and prep yourself, it’s that time of the week again - time to tune up your credit control.
Case 1: The bare minimum
By now you know the value of a ‘Thanks for Paying’ email - we’ve touched on it more than once. In case you need a quick refresher, we’ve got you sorted.
Whenever your customers make payment, whether it was on time or not, you should be thanking them for payment. The benefits are deceptively simple - it bolsters the customer relationship and encourages timely payment in future. In no way can it harm, so make sure you’re at least emailing off a quick thanks every time an invoice is paid.
One very important thing to note is that ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails are largely effective in consistency. If your finance team is still running outdated, manual credit control practices, you open yourself up to the huge risks of forgetting to send them within 24 hours of payment being received, or forgetting to send them entirely. The benefits gleaned from sending ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails can be entirely undone by an inconsistent send rate. Thankfully, automated ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails are just one of many benefits automated credit control offers your business - something you should be looking into immediately. All finance teams should be automating credit control by now.
We recently offered up our own tried-and-tested, best practice ‘Thanks for Paying’ template - feel free to copy and paste and use for yourself.
Case 2: Turning PITAs into Superstars
You might’ve read Case 1 above and thought “Why should I thank the bastards that just paid me late?” A well-asked, if not vulgar, question. We’ve actually written an entire post on this.
If the customer in question very rarely pays you late, they’re not a PITA. No good can come of harassing them for a late payment here or there. Anything could have happened on their end, potentially out of their control, and they’re not so poorly self-aware that they don’t know they messed up. Thanking them in this situation goes a long way in showing them good faith - you’re showing them that you recognise they’re a good and valued customer, and this can only come back to reward you, whether it’s prompt payment in future or continued business loyalty.
If the customer in question is regularly paying you late (i.e. they are a PITA), they’ll be thrown off guard by your thanks. With their walls down and their guilt at an all-time high, you can positively influence them to pay more promptly in the future. If they have no further outstanding invoices with you, close out your email with something like:
“... really excited to continue doing business with you, but I noticed we weren’t quite able to get there with this invoice being paid on time. Is there anything we can do in future that will help?”
The positive framing of excitement to continue doing business, coupled with the light touch on the issue (notice we’re not accusing them), goes a long way in getting the message across without them throwing their defenses back up.
If they do have further unpaid overdue invoices with you, you can instead opt to push for them being paid soon with something like:
“Thanks for paying invoice X! Where are we with invoice Y?”
This provides you a natural conversational segue so that you can broach the topic of further unpaid invoices without turning accusatory, which will do little to help you as they throw their defenses up.
Case 3: Converting customers to direct debit
It’s no secret - direct debit can often be a far superior option to selling on payment terms. For the seller offering it as a payment method, they can benefit from healthier cash flow (payments always made on time), time savings and happier customers (less admin time spent on payments on both sides).
But, like any payment method, it does have its limitations. If you want to best leverage direct debit, our quick and dirty rules are offer it when your customer:
- Is paying you on a regular, recurring basis (e.g. monthly)
- Is paying you in sub-£5,000 (or other currency equivalent) amounts at a time
Basically, these criteria identify situations where the friction of paying invoices will outweigh your customer’s potential benefit of increased cash flow flexibility (from them retaining control of when payment is made).
If a customer you sell to on payment terms is suitable for direct debit, tack on a line at the end of your ‘Thanks for Paying’ email explaining:
- Direct debit is a payment option for them
- How direct debit will benefit them
- The simple steps on how to switch to direct debit
GoCardless (a fantastic direct debit app that we included in our recent essential apps roundup for finance teams) has a couple of great guides you should read first - how to encourage customers to pay by direct debit, and how to assuage any concerns they may have.
Case 4: Securing further sales
One of our innovative customers, who is kindly letting us share their template below, closes out their ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails with a soft push for further sales. If your customer is coming to the end of a positive buying experience with you (something your ‘Thanks for Paying’ email will help with), innocuously offering up the option for further sales can work wonders in securing future business.
Note that anything inside the italicised [square brackets] is a placeholder that is replaced with the appropriate information for the specific customer and invoice in question.
[Your business’ name]: invoice [invoice reference number]
Hi [Recipient’s first name]
I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that we have received your recent payment in respect of invoice [invoice reference number]. Thank you very much. We really appreciate it.
If you would like to re-order please call **** **** **** or email *****@********.com
[Sender’s first name]
For best results, make the experience as frictionless as possible, offering the easiest and most direct path to ordering (in the above case, a phone number and email address).
Do it every time
Those are our four best ways to take advantage of ‘Thanks for Paying’ emails. For every invoice, you should at the very least be following Case 1. This will give you a solid baseline, one that every elite finance team today is on.
But, you should always be keeping an eye out for suitable situations in which to employ Cases 2 through 4. With those, over time you’ll see healthier cash flow, fewer PITA Customers, less wasted admin time, and potentially increased sales.
Not bad for one quick email, right?
How do you use yours?
If you're using your 'Thanks for Paying' emails in an ingenious way, let us know! My ears are always open at email@example.com.
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