When and how to ask customers to switch to Direct Debit

There are certain times in your relationship with a customer that it makes more sense to ask them to switch.


Trigger points

There are certain times in your relationship with a customer that it makes more sense to ask them to switch. For example:

  • When you are signing up a new customer
  • When a customer is late paying you and you are calling/emailing to chase for payment
  • When you are changing pricing for existing customers
  • The start of a new tax year

Consider the right trigger points for your business. Then make use of the relevant tips below and the talking points and email templates in Chapter 5 of this guide.

Asking existing customers

Here are a few more tips and tactics for making the request to existing customers.

  • Identify the worst offenders. Segment customers to identify which companies send you the most bank transfers/cheques or have the most late payments. Focus your time on the biggest pain point for your business, so you will start to see immediate results.

  • Be proactive and phone up. Get an administrative employee to take a one or two day “holiday” to call these customers. Or, use an intern.

  • Be opportunistic. Make the most of the times when you’re naturally talking to customers about a payment. For example, if you’re chasing them about a late payment, let them know how the problem can be avoided with Direct Debit.

  • Include a CTA on the bill. Provide clear and prominent Direct Debit sign-up instructions on your bills/invoices, and your website. If you use GoCardless through your accounting or membership software, you may be able to add a 'Pay Now' button to your invoices where customers can create a mandate, for example in Xero and Sage.

  • Ask whoever owns the relationship to email or call the client. Provide them with key talking points or an example email which they can top and tail as appropriate (See Chapter 5 of this guide). The ask will be different depending on what payment you’re asking them to move away from - see next chapter for pointers on what to say.

  • Set a timeline. We recommend being clear on when you need customers to sign up by (to get access to any benefit or incentive for example), or you might find the move will drag on.

Embedding GoCardless into customer onboarding

When taking on new customers, here are some tips to getting them signed up to Direct Debit with GoCardless from the outset.

  • Talk about your payment options at the start – as soon as you have a working relationship with a new customer, talk openly about pricing, invoicing and payment – and set clear expectations that Direct Debit is your preferred payment channel.

  • Include your preferred payment option in contracts and engagement letters – it’s hard to change habits; set your new customer up to pay via Direct Debit by default in your contract/service agreement, so they have to “opt-out” to pay by another method.

  • Make it clear how to sign up to GoCardless – don’t leave customers in the dark: show them how easy it is to set up GoCardless (see Chapter 7 of this guide).

  • Email customers to explain the benefits of Direct Debit – outline the key benefits of using Direct Debit and position GoCardless as the ideal solution (see Chapter 2 and Chapter 5 for content to help you do this).

  • Include the call to sign up to Direct Debit on the first bill or invoice. Include clear Direct Debit payment instructions on the first bill/invoice, and your website.

  • Place GoCardless at the top of the payment method selection. When offering payment methods either put GoCardless first or as the default (or only) option.

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