This may sound like a blog where I dote on how awesome we are.
I’m not going to do that.
I expect our prospective clients to read this and get a sense of how our onboarding and implementation process works so they can understand how we make partnerships successful.
At Gravy, we know customer onboarding is a crucial part of winning for our clients. We’ve been ahead of the curve on that one.
According to wyzowl, over 90% of customers feel the companies they buy from could do better with their onboarding process, and 63% look at onboarding as a major indicator of whether their experience with the company is going to be successful.
Ask yourself honestly: are you on the better side of those numbers?
Customer onboarding varies wildly across companies. If you work in SaaS, it’s a lot of getting a customer acquainted with your product and fluent in its UI/UX while also making integrations clean and seamless.
If you work in services, it’s understanding deliverables you may need from the customer or levels of access to certain tools.
If you work in a product-led company, it’s communicating lead times, meeting those lead times, and delivering products that meet QA/QC standards so they last what you promise and deliver on the value proposition.
At Gravy, we provide a service. A very hard service, and one that a lot of people don’t want to do.
So much so they automate it away.
But we emphasize the onboarding process because we’re a company designed to show ROI; otherwise, there would be no need for us.
Our onboarding process is a critical piece to driving a successful partnership where you recover customers, add revenue, and see growth.
For us, the success of that partnership is predicated on getting clear visibility into the client’s business, having buy-in at all the key levels, understanding the various tech platforms at work, and having a laser focus on our purpose.
Here’s how we work it:
We start with a dedicated onboarding team affectionately dubbed the FIO Team (figure it out). These rockstars work alongside your Retention Team to get into all the nitty gritty to ensure both client and partner (us) have total visibility into what we’re doing.
This often means diving into the client CRM and doing a forensic analysis. For most clients, this is something they rarely do to the level of detail we do. Our job is to make sure the client has a clear picture regarding the severity or levity of their failed payment problem so everyone is on the same page as we launch our efforts to bring revenue back to their bottom line.
One of the key functions of the FIO Team is to shed accurate light in the corner of failed payments for our clients. Overwhelmingly, most business owners underestimate the amount of revenue they have failing each month.
Before we even start with the subscription CRM analysis, we send a pre-call survey to get as much detail as possible from the client to get a clear picture.
Some of the information we ask for includes:
- Main point of contact
- Billing dispute point of contact
- Customer service point of contact
- Preferred communication method
- Subscription types and prices
- Billing software
- CRM software
- Refund / Cancellation policy
- Cancellation procedure
- Purchase access for client’s customers
- Down-sells or incentives
- Current failed payment recovery method (if any)
- Failed payment notification method
- Billing update process
- Billing update notice point of contact
- Customer access upon failed payment
- Multiple past due invoice policy
- Communication preferences to customers
Extensive list, right?
Being an extension of your team means learning your systems and processes in a detail-oriented way so that we act as a seamless part of your company. We treat your customers like our own. To do that and recover your failed payments so you’re adding to your business, we learn your systems and processes inside and out. This lets us do the most important parts of failed payment recovery - retain your customers and uphold the brand you’ve worked hard to build.
Having knowledge of internal client policies and procedures, key stakeholders, and flexibility to keep failed customers engaged are all the human things we prioritize to differentiate from bottom barrel “debt collectors” and cold automated messaging.
Grouping these criteria together, let’s detail why each of these pieces of information are vital to a successful client onboarding process at Gravy:
Points of Contact
Every client and every company has their organization chart set up differently. This makes failed payment responsibility different from client to client. Anyone from sales to customer service, to C-suite, or even marketing can own this as the main point of contact. Trust us, We’ve seen every scenario play out, and depending on the industry in question it can be more nebulous.
The larger the company, the more specialized this gets. Understandably so. Smaller companies with less layers will usually keep the same contact across all these functions (Primary, Finance, Billing Update, Customer Service).
Knowing this information keeps the workflows clean and the lines of communication direct when it comes to detailing all the different scenarios that can occur with a failed payment subscriber. It’s our job to make sure they get back on the plan, and knowing who we might need to talk to on our clients' team ensures efficiency and effectiveness at every turn.
We deal with clients of all scopes and sizes. Some prefer to have communication very informal and chat-like. Enter Slack. We’re a huge Slack company being 100% remote, so anytime a client wants to channel communication through Slack, it’s a natural behavior on our end.
But we’re not pushy either when it comes to this topic. Many clients prefer the more traditional email channel - and we’re more than happy to oblige.
The important thing is we use a communication channel for the clients that guarantees speed and efficiency when it comes to dealing with unforeseen issues, requests or unique needs from their customer, and timely updates regarding payment recovery. Not to mention, we are big on feedback loops. We are on the front lines of our clients’ businesses, talking to their customers, and we want to make sure we are communicating feedback to them at all times through the most effective communication method.
We like to share our success stories, and want to make sure our clients revel in them, as well.
This runs a lot of scenarios. Many companies offer multiple subscription types and have tiers within subscription models. If you, for instance, offer three tiers of subscription with both a monthly and yearly option, that’s six subscription models to account for.
Knowing all of the different subscriptions offered allows our Retention Team clarity into what products the failed customers have, what the other options are, and the best way to help them win.
Billing / CRM Software
This is crucial information, because we want to make sure that we have access to the tech stack so we can recover payments in the most efficient manner. We operate within our clients’ systems so they have total visibility.
Every CRM and payment processor is a little different, so this actually has an effect on some of the failed payment recovery techniques we use.
Samcart is a great example of this. Because Samcart doesn’t allow the payment link to be pasted into an email from a dedicated email account, when we do outreach to recover an involuntary churn, we can’t put the payment link in the outreach email and have to reference the automated outreach from Samcart.
This is a unique challenge to Samcast users, but knowing this allows us to adjust cadences and language to ensure we’re contextual all the time in our failed payment recovery outreach.
Billing and software CRMs also record different types of data, so if you have specific reporting requests they may not be possible or may be limited depending on the billing and CRM software used.
Typically, softwares like Stripe and Infusionsoft offer the most robust data and hence reporting capabilities compared to other softwares.
Refund / Cancellation / Past Due Policies & Processes
You can never be too prepared for these scenarios. When you white label a failed payment service, your customers think they’re talking to you. So we want to make sure they are.
Having intimate knowledge and visibility into each clients’ processes allows our Retention Team to give contextual, empathetic dialogue with a customer to get them back on subscription as effectively as possible.
Some clients prefer these scenarios be routed back to the Billing point of contact or the Customer Service point of contact. That’s perfectly okay. Our goal is to make sure the customer has a seamless experience with our Retention Team and we serve as an embedded part of the clients we serve.
As a company who highly emphasizes our own brand, we similarly emphasize being truly representative of yours.
Handling a customer with multiple past due payments is another nuance to always account for. All of these subscription plans have different ways of handling past due payments. We’ve seen several scenarios play out over time, including:
- Process all past due payments to get current
- Forgive past due and collect most recent
- Create a payment plan to get caught up
Which one of these is the best route? That’s up to you as a client and a business, but because we’re people-powered, we can flexibly accommodate any arrangement you feel would most add value for you.
Down-sells & Incentives
Not every client has sequences in place to entice disenfranchised subscribers to get back on their plan. But some do, and some empower our Retention Team to deploy down-sells or incentives to get failed payment customers re-engaged and back on.
It’s a smart tactic. Permission to down-sell keeps the customer engaged and extends the customer’s LTV.
While it’s not ideal they drop from a $99/month plan to say, a $49/month plan, that $49 stretched over a 12 period is still $588 you otherwise would not have netted in revenue without a down-sell tactic in place.
So money earned or money lost? It really depends on your perspective in that scenario.
Knowing what incentives and down-sell tactics are available help us extend your customer LTV and add value to your business.
Current Failed Payment Method
In our experience, most clients don’t have a process in place (13%) or have one where they aren’t measuring (70%). And at best, they use a dunning or some other version of an automated failed payment recovery service (25%).
From our data, dunning emails save about 15% of involuntary churn customers on average. That’s… not good.
But knowing whether you have active retries or other methods in place is critical so our Retention Team is able to plan our outreach cadences to either complement those services (if you choose to keep them) or better their performance (if we’re being rated against your status quo).
This is better than nothing, but having that understanding and then having a benchmark to improve upon always gets our Retention Team’s juices going.
Communication Method to Customers
This is really where the people-powered aspect of failed payment recovery excels and automation can fall woefully short.
First off, every single automated email cadence for failed payment recovery tends to be a very cold and obviously automated effort. Customers at this point are astutely aware when they’re being automated emailed, and the tendency is to generally ignore.
What’s more vital for you isn’t just the email open, but the click to open rate (CTOR). According to Privy, the average CTOR for automated business emails is 14.9%.
Suffice to say, it’s critical to deploy a non-automated method of communication to customers if you have any hope of retaining customers at a high percentage.
For some businesses, it also makes sense to use text messaging or even phone calls to reach out to failed payment customers.
Knowing the communication method you deploy will improve our ability to brand assimilate and recover failed payments effectively.
Failed Payment Recovery Is Hard
We know when you’re looking at a service like Gravy that you’re doing so because you recognize an issue within your organization. That you are losing revenue and inhibiting growth for your business.
Your team is rightfully obsessed with new customer acquisition and cross-selling / upselling current customers.
Lost customers that churn involuntary through the black box of failed credit cards? That’s not something most companies equip themselves to handle.
That’s where we step in.
If you feel ready to see where your pain points lie and how much you’re actually losing (and how much you can actually save), booking a call with us can give clarity to your failed payment situation and peace of mind to know you’re not losing customers needlessly through a trap door.