Calling your customers before your invoice is due

Brian O'Connor
The Basics

Do you call your customers before the due date of your invoices?

Everyone should call their customers before their invoices are due to be paid.  Not only is it good practice, but it can be used an opportunity to thank them for their business and more importantly it is an opportunity to make sure they are happy with the product/service and ensure that there will be no issues with the payment.

The way we see it there are two possible outcomes from this type of customer phone call.  

Firstly the customer confirms that there are no issues with the invoice and that they have received the goods/service and the corresponding invoice. This will then enable you to then ask them to confirm that the invoice will be paid on time, or at the very least in their next payment run.

Or secondly, there is a problem.  This could be anything from the original order, the product/service or even, the invoice itself.  But the fact that you called before the invoice was due means that you are in a better position to deal with that issue as a matter of priority and make sure the invoice gets paid on time.

Very often if there is an issue with the invoice, your customer will not take it upon themselves to inform you, at least until after the payment date has passed and you start to call them looking for payment. This is fairly typical behaviour, it’s often not in their interest to point out any errors and by not calling you it means they get to hold onto their cash a little bit longer.

A pre due reminder call is particularly important for those customers that only pay their suppliers once a month.

For efficiency purposes many customers will only pay their suppliers as part of a monthly payment run.  This is usually towards the end of the month where all outstanding invoices will be paid, regardless of their individual due dates.  This also typically means that by default some invoices will be paid past their due date. This can also cause a problem whereby if an invoice is due to be paid but there is an issue and it misses the payment run, it will potentially be another month before it is finally paid and as such the company has managed to get another 30 days of credit from you.  In these circumstances it is even more important to ensure all queries are dealt with quickly and efficiently.  The key here is knowing the date of your customers payment run, so for example if they always do their payment run on the 28th of the month, then it would be a good idea to allow yourself at least 5 days before this date to allow suitable time for either party to investigate and resolve any queries and make sure the invoice is included in the payment run.  Therefore put the date in you diary - call this customer on the 23rd!!.

A pre due reminder can easily be done by way of an electronic reminder such as an email or even a letter, similar to the late payment reminder but there is always the possibility that this may be ignored.  A call is always better as it allows you to ensure you can get a sense from the person you are talking to on the likelihood of getting paid on time.

The whole point of a pre due call is that it enables you to proactively manage the debt and remove any barriers to the payment, before they become an issue.

photo credit: Hannah Wei on Unsplash

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