Nowadays many physical and digital services are subscription based. A subscription-based pricing model is a payment structure that allows a customer to commit to a service on a continuous basis. As long as they remain subscribed, customers pay a business automatically on a regular basis (monthly or annually).
In other words, with customers paying automatically on a regular basis, subscription customer relationship management should be a business priority.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is all the technologies, strategies and activities companies use to manage their interaction with subscription customers.
CRM aims at helping businesses build relationships with their paying customers in order to achieve long-term goals, i.e. improve customer retention and build loyalty.
As customer subscription directly impacts a company’s bottom line, CRM as a management strategy aims at driving increased profits.
Recurring Billing vs Subscription Relationship Management
Businesses with a subscription-based pricing structure keep track of recurring customers, process cancellations and payments, record buying history, send invoices regularly, trigger payment failures, and so much more. A sing;e solution does however not necessarily takes care of all of this.
Subscription relationships management and recurring billing are two different concepts.
Recurring billing is managed automatically by your payment processor. It involves storing payment data and enabling securely transferred funds between the customer and the merchant. Popular payment processors include PayPal and Stripe. You can easily integrate both using PayKickstart:
- Here’s how to integrate Stripe with your shopping cart
- Here’s how to integrate PayPal with your shopping cart
A subscription relationship management system operates in conjunction with a payment processor. It supports recurring billing, while at the same time allowing customer support teams to reach out to customers that need help.
For example, a subscription relationship management system allows a business to address many of the actions that occur when payments recur (or fails). Businesses need it simply because when customers return to you regularly, the relationship changes from a simple transaction to becoming long, involved conversations.
When is Subscription Management Vital?
Subscription management is really important when various scenarios in a typical customer lifecycle occur:
- Customers signing up. If customers sign up for a trial, they may not be willing to continue using your service after the period yet. In such cases, customer service employees should be able to extend the trial period and win those customers back.
- Customers already using services or products. You may be able to initiate conversations that will encourage your customers to upgrade to a higher tier plan. This could involve calculating credits, tracking ad hoc charges or providing discounts. Subscription management strategy takes the hassle out of keeping track of the many billing conversations and allows you to identify customers who need help.
- Customer leaving. You need to keep track of cancellation requests, analyze how your teams address the requests and if they take actions to recover the payments.
Subscription management and recurring billing are always tightly integrated. The one offers flexibility and more control, and the other automation and intelligence.
When subscriptions are not managed properly, customers quickly lose trust in the company and may not want to deal with them anymore.
- You don’t want your customers to keep paying while not using your service (This would increase your chargeback rate and hurt your online reputation)
- You do want to re-claim failed payments and win those customers back to your site (Unless you do that, you’ll lose revenue)
PayKickstart Subscription Relationship Management Features
Regardless of which supported payment processors you are using, PayKickstart offers a variety of subscription management features including:
1. Trial Expiring Reminder
In many cases, people subscribe for a trial out of curiosity and then forget to check the site out. If they get charged without being notified of what’s coming, they can get upset and request a refund.
PayKickstart sends an automated email one day before the customer subscription trial ends.
It notifies the customer the trial is expiring soon and also includes a link to update their billing if needed.
This notification helps to avoid misunderstanding and frustration caused by the unexpected charge.
2. Billing Reminder Notification
To avoid refunds and chargebacks, you can set PayKickstart to send a friendly “billing reminder” to your customers, altering them that their next payment is coming soon.
You can enable this notification in the Product settings (Campaigns -> Edit Product). There you can also set how many days before the charge the email should be sent out.
3. TOS Acceptance
Customers will have more trust in your service or product if you include your TOS acceptance into the shopping cart. Besides, TOS acceptance will help if your customer will try to dispute the charge.
4. Upgrade/Downgrade Plan Management
It is important to have the flexibility of changing your customers’ tiers as it empowers your sales funnel with the possibility of upsells and upgrades.
With PayKickstart you can upgrade / downgrade your customers manually or using PayKickstart API.
You can set up first-month-free of a new plan and see the next charge date. This is handy when you want to be perfectly transparent with your customers letting them know exactly what and when is coming.
5. Failed Payment Customer Recovery
PayKickstart Dunning / Subscription Saver feature will help you recover your customers’ failed payments by sending three emails to the customer before canceling the payment:
- Immediately after the failed rebill attempt,
- 3 days after,
- 5 days after
On top of that, there are more subscription relationship management email notifications inside PayKickstart, including:
- Cart abandonment email which is triggered if the customer entered their detailed but never paid
- Digital download delivery email goes out if the customer purchases a product that is using the digital download option.
- Billing method expiration email is sent to the customer if the credit card on file is expiring soon
All the email notifications populated by PayKickstart are very actionable: They contain a related CTA and a link to solve the issue (update the card, proceed with the payment, etc.)
Finally, PayKickstart has a powerful email marketing integration suit (that includes Mailchimp, Getresponse, ConvertKit, etc.) allowing you to set up more types of emails (birthday specials, link clicking, etc.) to go to your customers using your preferred email automation software.
Success in any recurring business depends on its ability to build positive and strong relationships with customers. A good subscription management strategy can turn each new sign-up into the beginning of a beautiful journey resulting in long-lasting revenue.
Ann Smarty is the Brand Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, as well as co-founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of a weekly Twitter chat #vcbuzz