Get Invoices Paid With Rapport, Connection, and, Yes, Emojis
Guest Post by Diane Schindler, Accounts Receivable Manager at Snappy
I got into accounts receivable by coincidence. Ten years ago, I interviewed for a sales job because I wanted to be customer-facing. I was instead hired for my first AR role, and I’ve never looked back. Today, I’m the Accounts Receivable Manager at Snappy, an all-in-one corporate gifting platform.
When Snappy hired me, they asked me to build out their AR process to meet their rapid growth. Considering my lean, two-person team, people ask me how we collect as many invoices as we do with the success rate that we have. I answer by sharing these AR hacks that we use every day. Most of them aren’t rocket science, they’re just very people-oriented.
Build Real Rapport With Customers
Our goal is to speak with every customer in a way that builds rapport because we know that if we have a good relationship with the customer, they’re more likely to pay on time. The AR team is an extension of every other team and we want the customer to feel as appreciated and understood by AR as they do with sales, CX, or any other Snappy team.
Make It Personal
We use our personal email addresses with customers so they know they’re dealing with a real person and not just some anonymous message through a portal. We take the time to start emails and phone calls by asking how the customer is doing, and we get specific. We learn when their birthdays are and what they like and dislike so there’s a real relationship.
I’ll send a friendly message even if that customer has no open invoices. I’ll remind them that we’re here if they need anything today or in the future. Perhaps I’ll tell them about something new on our platform to get them logged in again if it’s been a while. That’s not a waste of my time — it’s the opposite. They may become our biggest customer six months from now, and that conversation may help drive that evolution.
Be Accessible and Responsive
If a customer emails or leaves us a voicemail, we respond to them as soon as possible. This is an organization-wide goal at Snappy, but as the AR manager, I have an added incentive for getting back to customers without delay. I want them to know they can turn to us with any problem or question without hesitation. We’re real partners. We’re not just here to send them an invoice. If we’re always responsive to them, it helps influence customers to be responsive to us when we’re asking for payment.
Know Your Audience
It is very important to understand what your customer has on their plate and to show interest in them. For instance, if I’m emailing an AP rep at the end of the month, I acknowledge that and ask how the month-end close is going. In somebody’s busy day, it makes them feel good to know that you recognize their challenges. This helps make Snappy a priority vendor whose invoices are paid first.
This personal relationship helps me spot red flags and reduce aging, as well. Certain customers always pay on time, but if I see one on my aging report, I know there must be a specific problem. Was our invoice correct? Did I reach out to the correct person? Have I kept my contact record accurate? Knowing my customer makes it fast and easy to reach out to investigate and correct any issue delaying payment.
Maximize Your Emoji Strategy
As a customer relationship develops, I’ll use emojis to add something friendly to my messages. Maybe it’s a waving emoji as part of an email signoff, like “bye-bye.” If it’s the holiday season, a gift emoji or a Christmas tree emoji if it’s right for that person. We’re Snappy — we’re all about gifts! Is it your customer’s birthday? Sending them a little cake emoji might make them smile, and seeking those smiles could have a really big impact strategically.
You need to read the room, though — you’re a professional working for a professional company. I do NOT send a sad or evil face emoji to someone who has not paid an invoice. But, I feel it is professionally appropriate in many cases to add some personality to your communications, and it is part of our culture here at Snappy. It helps differentiate us and helps maintain the close relationships we work to build.
Rely on Accurate Information
As you can see, the hacks above are soft skills that my team uses to our advantage. They become even more powerful when you have an automated AR platform that integrates with your ERP and CRM systems, making it easy to keep your records up-to-date and giving you confidence that you have the right contact information and order details for invoices and email campaigns.
Want to learn more from Diane? Check out Coffee, Collections & Cash Flow with Snappy.