Semantics. The words you use, are so important, especially so when chasing slow payers. It’s such a sensitive topic. And the words that you use when you write to someone, whether in a letter or in an email, have to be chosen extraordinarily carefully or you run the very real risk of offending a debtor. So, to the reason for this post.
What is the best wording to use in an email reminder?
The wording to use should apply many of the principles that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. I’ve put links in the analysis below for you to refer to.
Wording for a FIRST Reminder Email
Invoice for: Camelot Pty Ltd
Invoice No: 67299
According to our records, the above amount appears to be outstanding.
If payment has been made, thank you.
If it hasn’t, please organise for settlement in the near future.
Please contact me if you have any queries or if I can be of any assistance.
Analysis of the structure and wording used
* The salutation is fairly formal.
* It contains details of the invoice – easy reference for the debtor
* It blames “records” for contacting the debtor (leaving the creditor as the Good Guy)
* Payment “appears” to be overdue (we could be wrong – allows the debtor to retain their pride)
* Thanks the debtor in case the payment has been made (assumption of innocence)
* It doesn’t say “pay”, it asks the debtor to “organise” payment – positioning.
* It doesn’t specify a pay-by date, it suggests “in the near future”
* It uses the words “me” and “I” so the debtor feels more at ease with a real person to contact.
* It makes the debtor feel in a strong position by offering to “be of any assistance” – this non-threatening wording actually encourages debtors to contact the creditor.* “Kind Regards” – very old fashioned, again suggests a soft approach
* It’s sent to them by an “Information Gatherer”, Gwen, not anyone “high up” in the business. The accounts person. A non-threatening person.
In a future post, I’ll show you what is the best wording to use for a second reminder email. The wording in the email above is deliberately very gentle; it allows the wording to become firmer in future communications. Remember, Start Early, Always Be the Good Guy and Become Very Hard To Ignore. This email is step one.