Using Email to Collect Payments
Faster Than Mail
Preferred by Consumers
Over recent years, consumers have begun to ask for more digital solutions from companies. Choices for digital engagement, like online payment portals and email notification opt-ins, have become more popular than ever.
Part of this trend is because our world is becoming more comfortable with technology. Another part, however, has been driven by COVID-19 and the world’s unexpected demand for simpler, contactless ways to interact.
As your competitors offer more digital options and experiment with new ways to engage, you may find yourself out of favor with loyal customers if you aren’t listening to their requests.
Convenient for Businesses
Using email to collect payments isn’t just helpful to your customers. Adding an email option to your offerings will:
- Cut down on mailing costs and letter vendor fees. Many email solutions cost significantly less than the expenses associated with paper mail.
- Give employees tracking and payment status information. Through electronic communications, staff can track whether a message was received, opened, clicked on and more.
- Make it simple to share statements or other documents with consumers that they can review while on the phone. Agents can send payment terms, outstanding balance information or more to an email address for consumers to immediately review alongside an agent, boosting your trust and transparency.
After deciding on the correct payment communication tool for your business, your next consideration is which workflows you intend to send by email. Some of these may be single email templates sent on a one-time basis, but others may require follow-ups or internal monitoring to succeed.
Those collecting late payments should keep in mind any industry rules that apply to your communications, such as Regulation F. Also think about the digital customer journey, and how the experience will feel to the recipient. Consider:
- Send times - you may be required to send (or not send) emails at certain times of the day. Adhere to guidelines and also try to send your emails at the most convenient time for the consumer.
- Number of emails - you may be restricted on how many times you follow up with consumers, or you may simply create your own parameters for how many times (weekly, monthly or total) you will reach a consumer by email for each workflow.
- Email spacing - pay attention to the length of time you leave between emails. If you are trying to prompt a customer to resolve a late bill, this point is essential. Emailing too often may make your consumers feel annoyed or even like they are being harassed.
Email Payment Workflows
Down Payments and Copays
Contractors, healthcare facilities and other companies that offer services before receiving payment may sometimes require a down payment or copay in advance.
Sending a payment request through email along with contracts shortens your workflow and keeps everything in one place for your consumers.
Companies that facilitate Electronic Funds Transfers (ETFs) are required by law to comply with Regulation E. This regulation states that EFTs – which include taking payments from a consumer’s bank account – must be authorized by the consumer prior to the transaction.
If you use email messaging, payment authorizations can be instantly sent to a consumer’s inbox rather than their home address, allowing them to give payment consent within minutes.
Opting In and Out
Using email to collect payments can boost revenue and customer satisfaction but mishandling those who opt-in and those who decline, is essential to success. Make sure you have adequate reporting on who is opting in or out of your emails.
Use these reports regularly to manage consumer consent. It’s your duty as a business to understand how consumers want to be contacted and be prepared to honor their wishes. For example, a consumer opting into email communications only should not receive phone calls.
Building and Maintaining Trust
Another component to sending consumer emails is the need to build trust. Customers may forget they signed up for emails from you, or even forget they patronized your business. In the case of debt collection, you may even be less familiar to consumers.
Remember, scammers are becoming more prevalent through phone calls and text messages, but they haven’t abandoned the inbox. If your company’s emails don’t look professional, you will quickly lose trust and potentially miss out on revenue.
Proofing Your Emails
All written, consumer-facing communications should be read and edited internally before being sent. Many spam or phishing emails can be identified by certain hallmarks. To differentiate yourself and create the best first impression:
- Avoid grammar and spelling errors - many scam emails are poorly written, so misspellings in your company’s email may cause red flags.
- Consistent branding and style - whenever possible, try to keep branding and style consistent. Don’t refer to your company by an acronym in your emails if you don’t refer to it that way on your corporate website or elsewhere. This could cause confusion.
- Avoid false urgency - many consumers have been taught that false urgency is a common thread in phishing and other scams. In addition, making an email sound urgent may have more severe consequences, depending on any industry regulations your company adheres to.
When sending your invoice, be sure include all of the elements a customer may potentially need to know:
- Account number
- Line items as needed
- Bill total
- Due date
- Consumer name
- Company name
Most companies aren’t ready to abandon the channels they’ve used for so many years – and that’s okay! Adding email to an existing payment collection model is an excellent way to enhance current practices, fill in gaps in your procedures and speed up revenue cycles.
PDCflow’s FLOW Technology helps businesses send documents and request signatures, payments and photo uploads to customers by email or SMS text message. FLOW lets you verify recipient identity, track the status of sent messages and more.
To compare how FLOW Technology stacks up against lower tech modes of communication, download our Traditional VS Digital Communication for Accounts Receivable Comparison.