What is a late payment email?
A late payment email is an email that notifies a customer of overdue payments. It provides invoice details and encourages payment from the customer in a professional manner.
A well-written late payment email clearly indicates the amount due and the due date. It also states the results of failing to pay on time and offers easy-to-follow payment instructions.
How To Write A Late Payment Email
In the UK, small and medium-sized businesses are facing a problem with frequent late payments. Unfortunately, it’s common for invoices to go unpaid for up to three months, leaving some small businesses struggling to fund their operations.
While there is no silver bullet to this problem, writing an excellent late payment email may help alleviate it to a degree. There are several things you can do to write an effective late payment email.
Let’s take a look at them.
1. Use ChatGPT to help you create an excellent email framework
Late payment emails are a somewhat delicate subject, so they need to be handled with nuance and care. If you’re struggling to write a compelling late payment email, ChatGPT can help you in the following ways.
Creating a first draft
There are plenty of late payment email templates online that you can use, but if you’d like to pioneer your own style, ChatGPT (particularly ChatGPT Plus) can help you craft a strong first draft that you can then personalize.
If you haven’t used it yet, ChatGPT is a powerful tool for writing emails. It can assist you with different stylistic approaches, tones, structures, and more.
ChatGPT can also help you formulate an empathetic opening for the late payment email, acknowledging any potential challenges that the customer may be facing.
Balancing politeness and firmness
Striking the right balance between being polite and firm can be tricky when sending a payment reminder, so you might need a helping hand. Adding a quick prompt to ChatGPT asking for its assistance could do the trick. It’s quite creative.
Once you’ve crafted the message you want, ChatGPT can help you write a closing that expresses gratitude and a wish for continued collaboration with the customer.
Refinement and personalization
You can further personalize the email by asking ChatGPT to insert certain elements into the draft, such as specific details about your relationship with the customer.
Efficiency and consistency
ChatGPT can quickly generate email drafts. It can also help tremendously with maintaining a consistent tone and style, which is an otherwise time-consuming process when writing.
ChatGPT can be used to create various versions of payment reminder emails, adapting to different scenarios and customer types.
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2. Use a polite reminder, then follow with a firmer one (if needed)
Reminding customers of late payments in a friendly way is often all it takes to receive a payment, as invoices can sometimes get overlooked by accident.
If your first late payment email doesn’t work, however, you can always use a firmer tone.
While you certainly don’t want to be rude, it may be a good idea to suggest some sort of consequence for the failure to pay, such as a fee or a lack of service availability.
3. Add the word “invoice” in the email subject line
Using a clear, concise email subject line like “Company Name – Overdue Invoice #123456” helps to remind your customers of outstanding payments.
Avoid vague subject lines that your customers are likely to ignore or delete upon reading. What you put in your reminder email’s subject line is actually quite important.
In fact, Finances Online (sharing a stat from Barilliance) states that 64% of email recipients decide to open emails based on the subject line.
4. Use the customer’s name in the email
Using your customer’s name in a late payment email is a nice touch that we suggest adding. It achieves a few important goals.
Firstly, it gets the customer’s attention. Secondly, it shows that you see them as a person, not just an unpaid invoice. Thirdly, it helps establish a conversational tone, making the email read less like a vague, impersonal warning and more like a personal and professional reminder.
5. Get to the point with a polite and direct opening
Getting right to the point in a respectful way in your reminder email shows that you respect the recipient’s time. Just as importantly, it quickly orients them to the email’s purpose.
A clear opening like, “We noticed your payment of X for Invoice Y is 14 days overdue,” immediately communicates what’s going on without ambiguity.
Remember that a lot of people skim over emails from people they don’t know. If you don’t get right to the point, your customer might disregard and possibly delete your email before finishing it.
6. Offer alternative payment solutions
Offering customers flexible payment solutions, such as an incremental monthly payment plan, can help them make their payments.
In your late payment email, you might consider saying something like, “If you are unable to make the full payment, we offer a flexible monthly payment plan.”
Potential payment alternatives include:
- Installment Plans: Customers can pay in smaller amounts over a specified period.
- Deferred Payment: Permits a delay in payment for a specified period without penalty.
- Partial Payment: Allows a reduced amount to ease the customer’s financial load.
- Discount for Early Payment: Offers a reduced total if paid before a certain date.
- Third-Party Financing: Accepts financing options through a third party.
- Barter System: Exchanges goods or services in lieu of monetary payment.
- Digital Wallets: Enables payments through digital or e-wallets for convenience.
- Credit Card Payments: Allows payments to be made via credit card, which might offer them a grace period before payment is due to the card provider.
Mentioning payment avenues in the email
You might also consider highlighting different payment avenues in your email, such as:
- Online portals and bank transfers
- Payment methods like PayPal and cryptocurrencies
- Automatic payments and phone payments
Guiding customers through the payment process
Additionally, it might help to guide the customer through the payment process. For instance, you could add a screenshot with a visual guide or a short video walkthrough demonstrating how the payment process works.
» MORE: What is Recurring Billing?
7. Specify the next steps
When writing a late payment email, it’s a good idea to explain what will happen if the invoice remains unpaid. For instance, you could say something like:
“We’d like to inform you that an unsettled account will incur a late payment charge of X, and persistent non-payment will compel us to suspend your account and refer it to a debt collection agency.”
A few tips when adding next steps to a late payment email
In your email, provide a clear path the customer can follow to resolve the issue. For instance, you might provide a direct link to a payment portal.
While it’s necessary to be firm about your policies, showing empathy for the customer and a willingness to discuss alternative arrangements can help maintain the relationship.
Keep it ethical
Obviously, you don’t want to lose your cool and resort to foul language, bluffs, or threats. Instead, be polite and professional and follow through on what you say.
Different types of payment reminders
There are several different types of payment reminders, which include:
- A reminder before the invoice is due (upcoming payment notice)
- A reminder the day of payment
- A reminder after the payment is due
- A reminder for long overdue invoices (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.)
- An escalation reminder to higher management
- A final notice reminder before legal action is taken
- A reminder with an alternative payment plan
- A courtesy reminder for upcoming recurring payments
- A reminder with a discount offer for early payment
- A reminder with a notice of late payment fees applied
Automating these reminders may be the best choice for your ecommerce business.
Accepting ecommerce payments with Pixxles
Choosing Pixxles as your payment processor guarantees a straightforward, clear, and supportive payment journey for your business.
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