More and more businesses are relying on email over phone calls to collect from past-due accounts. Email is faster and more direct than trying to connect with a late payer on the phone.
Of course, people can ignore a collections email as easily as they would a phone call. And they’ll almost certainly ignore an email that’s not written effectively.
The key is the subject line. Nail that and you’ll drive up your reply rate, leading to collections.
What makes for an attention-grabbing subject line?
Highlight these strategies with your accounts receivable or credit & collections staffers to create a subject line that gets accounts to respond (and pay up):
- Get specific. Studies have proven that subject lines with customer account numbers or invoice numbers helps get those emails opened. So try a subject line like: Payment Needed for Invoice Number 1234 or Account Number 1234 Payment Needed.
- Personalize it. No one wants to feel like a part of a mass collections email. So get the first name of your A/P contact right in the subject line. The proof it’s worth it: The open rate for emails with personalized messages is roughly 6% higher than those without personalization.
- Stay out of the spam filter. You and your team know not to use words like “money” or “price,” but even things like “check” or “act now” can land you in the junk file.
- Experiment a little. What do marketers do? They test multiple approaches to see which ones get the best response. Encourage your A/R staffers to do the same until they hit upon the winning formula.
Phone call follow-up may be needed
Of course, should you not get the desired effect from that email, your team will need to pick up the phone and get calling.
Nothing stops a collections call dead in its tracks faster than a customer getting defensive. There’s a single word many A/R staffers use that makes customers defensive more than anything else.
The word is why:
- “Why haven’t you paid our latest invoice?”
- “Why didn’t you speak up about the quantity discrepancy?”
The good news is a single word swap can turn things to your company’s advantage.
Opens up instead of shutting down
Urge your staffers to use the word “what” when they pick up the phone instead of the dreaded “why”:
- “What caused you to fall behind with your account?”
- “What happened that’s keeping you from paying this invoice now?”
That way, instead of callers putting up a wall because they feel personally attacked, you open the door to answers that give your company inroads to get paid.
It’s also a way to convey empathy – based on their response, you can find a way to relate to their situation, which paves the way for smoother collections.