“Dunning” is a word that can send cold thrills down your spine.
For business owners, it’s a rather unpleasant process of trying to collect the receivable amount. For customers, dunning is associated with getting intimidating calls from weird people.
Business owners think that customers don’t pay on purpose. Customers who face problems with payments think that dunning communication is rude, and they often see business owners as greedy sons of nutcrackers.
Dunning is an inevitable part of doing business and no one can avoid it. However, there’s a way to turn this customer nightmare into a positive experience.
Who’s your debtor?
Many companies tend to send nice and friendly emails when they want a customer to make a purchase. And the very same companies turn into cold-hearted debt collectors as soon as this customer owns them money.
For those who send harsh-sounding emails, I have one advice: hold your horses.
People who owe you money aren’t the Jesse James types, so why treating them this way? I bet that in most cases these people don’t even know that their payment failed. Show them some empathy and make the whole process less painful.
So, let’s see what are the reasons why customers don’t pay you:
- They had problems with a payment gate,
- Their card expired,
- They’ve lost their card,
- They’ve changed their card and forgot to update CC info,
- They’ve had insufficient funds,
- They’re on holidays.
If you start sending rough emails, you might be sure that you will put your customers off and eventually - lose them. But if you play that well, you will strengthen your relationship with your customers.
Rules of a basic dunning email
When you send your dunning email, you should focus on basics first:
- Make it clear who you are and what you want,
- What’s the amount due,
- What’s the payment due date,
- The date of a next payment attempt,
- A link to invoice / settings / payment options,
- Contact information.
Here’s the example of a decent, neutral-sounding dunning email:
The above email gives all the information I mentioned above.
A clear subject line gives clear indication on who is writing, why, and what is required from the recipient.
The body of an email gives the rest of the information: the amount due and dates of next payment attempts. There’s clear link to the dashboard where you can update your CC details and support email in case you need Netlify’s help.
What I would change:
I would change the way the third paragraph is written. Because of the wordiness, the dates and the result of not paying get’s lost. It looks messy and I doubt that a customer would even read it (there’s more important stuff to acknowledge).
Evoke right emotions
People get neutral sounding emails on a daily basis. If you want to distinguish your mailing, you need to add your communication the unique voice to sound like a real person.
Dunning is a delicate situation that evokes a lot of different emotions in your customers. Surprise, anger, shame, or frustration. By showing empathy in your email, you help them to deal with these emotions and earn their gratitude and trust.
Check out the below email, paying close attention to its voice and tone.
Awesome, right? You get the information about what happened, but there’s no blaming, there’s only a conclusion that stuff happens. This email presents a lot of empathy and I’m sure it wouldn’t evoke negative emotions in the recipients.
Apart from that, there’s a clear title, a link to a dashboard, and some actionable pieces of advice. Customer is informed on possible actions (call the bank, update CC info) and what would the company do (try to charge the customer again and might cancel the account eventually).
What I would change:
I’m missing here information about the amount due, but more importantly - information about dates: when will be the customer charged again, and when the account will be cancelled. If a dunning letter is supposed to be effective, it needs to contain this info.
Keep it short and positive
Here’s the example of a nice dunning email, sent by Mailflow.
What I like here the most is that the company stresses out what will customer miss if they don’t make a payment. I believe this is something that should be included in every dunning email you send; there’s always a good timing to remind customer about benefits of your subscription.
This email is simple and positive; there is no room for blaming.
There’s a little bit of personal touch (“hi John”), short information about what happened, brief reminder of what would John lose if he doesn’t decide to make a payment, a link to a payment info update, and a link to company’s support.
A nice thing is to also introduce upcoming features or simply remind your customer what they will be missing when their account is cancelled.
What I would change:
A brief information about the amount due and when company will try to charge a customer would be a valuable information for a customer.
Use dunning as a customer experience opportunity
Most people see dunning as a way to recover as much revenue as possible. Sure, that’s the primary goal of this process, but luckily, dunning can be more than that.
A nicely crafted email can show your customers that you want to help, and that you don’t want to lose them as clients. That builds a better relationship with your customers and helps you to earn trust.
So, when building your dunning process, remember about these few rules:
- Send a branded email with clear information who is writing,
- Give all the information your customer would need (the amount due, when will you try to charge your customer again, when the account will be closed),
- Link to a place where a customer can update their CC details,
- Sound like a real human (show empathy in your email and don’t blame your customer),
- Keep your email short and positive,
- Stress the benefits your customer will miss if they don’t stay with you.
Last but not least, don’t send just one dunning email, send at least three emails every 2-3 days. And remember, don’t send the same email more than once, people tend to skip emails they’ve already seen (or just think they’ve seen).
And once you stick to these rules, you may be sure that you won’t sound like a debt-collector any more. Your dunning communication will become a positive experience for your customers and you will build a long-lasting relationship with them.