Communicating with your clients or customers isn’t always the easiest of tasks. While a majority of them are awesome, you do encounter those clients who are demanding and overly emotional. Even worse, there are some who are constantly late on paying an invoice. Sometimes, there’s no way around this. But, you may be able to squash those unrealistic expectations or please unsatisfied clients simply by improving your communication with them. This in turn will encourage them to pay you more quickly. With that in mind, here are the top invoice communication tips to help get you paid faster.
Get to know your client.
That may sound obvious, but if you want to provide an exceptional service then you first need to get to know your client. What are their needs? Goals? Who do you contact if there are any issues?
Prior to taking-on a new client, or even when hiring a new freelancer or vendor, one of the top invoice communication tips is to make it a point to schedule a phone-call. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. Usually a 5-10 minute phone call is enough time to determine how we can help each other.
Additionally, when you know exactly what you’re client or customer is looking for, they won’t keep requesting changes to a project. And, when there are less changes to be made, the faster you’ll get paid.
Also, that quick call may enough to get started, but you should continue to keep learning more about your clients and customers. I do this by using the message section of invoices to ask for feedback and suggestions. This way if there’s something specific the client is looking for I’ll incorporate it in the future.
And, as an added perk, their feedback allows me to enhance my skills as well. Again, this will help my enhance their experience, which will convert them into recurring clients.
Exchange ideas and keep them in the loop.
Exchanging ideas with your clients is one of the most effective invoice communication tips. This means, as a provider of services, you should be sharing with them the latest news, trends, and opinions within the industry.You also need to then suggest how this can benefit their business. Doing so demonstrates your expertise, as well as shows that you’re looking out for their best interests.
Besides sharing the latest industry news, also keep them in the loop if their any changes within your business. For example, if your business is running a current offer, then let them know in your invoice so that they can take advantage of the deal. If you’re going to be out of town, give them a head’s up so that they don’t think that you’re avoiding them.
Define the scope of a project.
With no disrespect to your clients, they’re not always aware on how long a project may take. If you’ve been running your business for awhile, then you do. As such, you should give the client an ETA on how long it’s going to complete a project from the get-go.
Furthermore, effective invoice communications tips also include clearly setting expectations from the beginning. This way the client has an idea on what the final project will look like before it even starts. And, most importantly for your sanity, it will eliminate scoop creeps and delays in payment.
Establish specific payment terms and conditions upfront.
When it’s time to bill your clients, the invoice should never surprise them. That’s why you need to establish specific payment terms and conditions upfront.
As explained in a previous Due post, without them, “you aren’t clearly communicating when a payment is expected, as well as other conditions like your preferred payment method, incentives for early payments, and consequences of late payments.”
Terms and conditions also discuss timelines and a description of the work requested. You can then use this information to create a contract with a client. This way if there’s a payment issue, you can refer to the agreement to resolve it.
Again, just because you’re an expert in your field doesn’t mean that your client as. This means that if you want to improve communication you should skip the jargon and use laymen’s terms. For example, if you’re a web designer don’t use words like “kerning” or “bleed” to describe your work.
The same goes with the terms you use in your invoice. Instead of using “Net” 7, 10, 30, 60, or 90 to state when a payment is due, use “days.” For instance, your invoice would state, “Please make payment within 10 days.”
Schedule frequent check-ins.
Even when everything is going smoothly, it’s still important to frequently communicate with your clients. Of all the invoice communication tips, this one can help gauge if the client is satisfied or not. It also gives you a chance to update them on the current status of a project or remind them about an upcoming payment.
Sending an email should suffice if you’re just checking-in or keeping them up-to-date. Scheduling a quick phone call, however, is better when you need to discuss more important issues since it prevents any miscommunication.
Your clients want to work with someone who is reliable and professional. That means responding to their email, text, or phone in a timely manner.
For example, if they have a question regarding your work then they want to know what’s going on as soon as possible. And, the longer it takes to respond and resolve an issue, the longer it will take for you to get paid.
However, make sure that you set boundaries. Make it clear when your operating hours are. Remember, you have a personal life and you shouldn’t be expected to be on-call 24/7.
Don’t take criticism personally.
There will be times when you’re dealing with an unhappy or particularly demanding client. In a way, you can’t blame them. It’s their business and they want things a certain way.
But, instead of getting angry, sarcastic, or passive aggressive with them, keep your cool. Remember, you’re a professional. That means that you can’t let emotion control how you communicate with your clients.
If there’s no way in pleasing a client, then you may want to consider letting them go. But, if you enjoy working with the client, then keep a positive attitude and use the criticism as a chance to grow.
Always say “please” and “thank you.”
Including a phrase like “please pay your invoice within” or “thank you for your business” can increase the percentage of invoices getting paid by more than five percent. However, you could personalize by composing something like, “Thank you for being a customer since 2015. I look forward to serving you again.”
It may not sound like much, but it’s a small gesture strengthens your relationship since it adds that personal touch and familiarity with your clients. It also shows that you’re sincere about working with them in the future.