Do you frequently hear from customers saying they didn’t receive their invoices? If so, I have a couple of questions for you. Namely, do you think their invoices got lost or do you think they got “lost”?
I recently read an article by the IACC (International Association of Commercial Collectors) that addressed this phenomenon. When a customer requests a copy of their invoice, the article suggests you (or staff member) use the request as an opportunity to ask some questions yourself.
- What address and to whom should the invoices normally be mailed?
- Has the address recently changed?
- To whom should this invoice copy by sent?
- According to our records, the invoice corresponds to purchase order number ___. Is this number valid in your system?
- Do you have receiving documents for this open item?
- Am I correct that the only reason this item remains unpaid is that you do not have an invoice on file?
- Once you have received the invoice copy, is there any reason this invoice cannot be processed and paid this week?
- I will email (or fax) a copy of the invoice now. What is your email (fax) address?
Okay, I get that that’s a lot of questions, perhaps to many, but one of the main reasons of the question-and-answer session is to make sure you’ve resolved any actual delivery issues and to be certain that excuses for delaying payment—once the invoice copy has been received—has been addressed and fixed. Obviously you can tweak the questions to fit your own needs, but keep in mind the other main function of the questioning is to discourage customers from using the “lost invoice” as a regular excuse for delaying payments. According to the article, customers are less likely to continue using this excuse if they have to answer questions like the ones listed above every time they request an copy of their invoice.
Documenting which customers’ request invoice copies and the frequency of these requests might reveal a pattern showing a correlation between “lost” invoices and delayed payments. The more information you have the better off you’ll be. You know what they say, “forewarned is forearmed.”
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 10 years.