How to Retain Customers When the Universe Threatens to Churn

~ 5 min read | May 14

How can you eliminate, or at least minimize the impact of churn on your revenue today?

I don’t have to write an essay to tell that churn is bad. But in today’s already unpredictable climate, every dollar churned is just terrible, terrible news.

Quick Context:

Churn is when customers stop paying for your product or service. That means SaaS & subscription businesses have the added pressure to bring in a portion of new revenue through sales to offset churn from existing customers just so they can sustain (not even grow) their current revenue run rate. 

Churn could happen for a number of reasons including improper onboarding, poor customer service, or product upgrades, a better offer from a competitor. When customers choose to churn out of their own volition, you’d categorize it as voluntary churn. But what hurts more is losing a customer to operational glitches – when neither you nor your customer wanted to pull the plug. It could be anything from a payment failure, lack of a preferred payment gateway, or the end of a billing cycle. 

Now back to the main story: How can you eliminate, or at least minimize the impact of churn on your revenue today?

Zenchef recovered 60% of formerly unpaid accounts with Chargebee’s Smart Dunning. ​​

Whiteboard reduced involuntary churn using Chargebee and increased their MRR by 35%.

Proxyclick was able to retain a large chunk of their customers by pausing or reactivating their subscriptions when they didn’t want to use the product for a specified period of time.

Smart Dunning:

The Problem: Involuntary Churn due to Credit Card Declines

Credit cards are clearly leading the pack in online payment methods. Having your customers’ card on file gives you the ability to charge and collect without having to wait for invoice approvals and finance back-and-forth. And yet, card declines are one of the biggest culprits leading to involuntary churn.

About 6% of all card payments fail in the first attempt network outages, maxed out card limits,  expired cards… The reasons could be many – but the result is for every $100 worth of subscriptions using credit card payments, you risk losing $6 to involuntary churn

So what can you do?

A dunning system lets you recover revenue lost to payment failures by both retrying the credit card at set intervals, and also emailing customers so they can update their information.

Chargebee’s Smart Dunning goes a step beyond, by automatically tuning the frequency and time of retries to increase recovery rates by 25%.

Smarter Retries

The Problem: A bad dunning strategy can be worse than having no dunning at all. Having a higher rate of failed payments could at best result in lesser leverage with your payment gateway in negotiating fees, and at worst expose you to being flagged as an “at-risk” merchant. 

So what can you do?

Chargebee’s Dunning capability includes “Smart Retry”, a mechanism that understands the reason behind a payment failure and adjusts the retry logic accordingly. If a credit card on file resulted in a failed payment due to a hard-decline such as card expiry, there’s no point trying that same card again a few weeks later.

Multiple Payment Methods

The Problem: Customers have very specific payment method preferences across geographies, demographics, and firmographics. SMBs and customers making smaller transactions might prefer credit card payments, while direct debit and bank transfers make more sense in larger enterprise deals. And then there’s the other 61% of global transactions that are still managed through offline payment methods like cheques.

Not offering customers their preferred payment option can lead to unnecessary friction at different points of your sales cycle and renewals. But even more scary – with just a single payment instrument tied to a customer, you don’t have a fall-back option if that method fails.

So what can you do?

Chargebee supports more than 27 payment gateways, digital wallets, and direct debit (such as ACH, SEPA, BECS, Autogiro, BACS). You can also log and track offline payment methods within Chargebee.  This gives you the flexibility to offer customers a choice of payment options, and even have back-ups on file so you can continue to serve customers without interruption.

Learn about Chargebee’s Payment Methods.

Smart Routing

The Problem: The great thing about SaaS is it lets you reach a truly global audience. But each time a payment method is added, a gateway account must be linked to it.

So what can you do?

Chargebee also allows you to add multiple payment gateways. Smart Routing allows you to configure rules that will help Chargebee pick the right  gateway based on the currency automatically

​​ ​​ Learn more about Smart Routing.

Pause Subscription

The Problem: In these uncertain times where there are budget cuts all around, you may see higher cancellations requests coming your way. But no one likes to lose a customer.

So what can you do?

Chargebee’s pause subscription feature allows customers to temporarily pause their subscriptions and reactivate when they’re ready to start using your product helping you retain the customer. 

​​Learn more about pausing a subscription.

Coupons

The problem: As the global pandemic deepens, customer churn rates are likely to move up. Being proactive rather than reactive to customer churn can go a long way in boosting sales.

So what can you do?

Discounts and coupons can play a crucial role in retaining customers. Chargebee’s tailor-made coupons give you the flexibility and ease of providing discounts, promotions, and special offers. 

​​Learn more about coupons.

If you want to know more about any of these features, please write to [email protected]

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Shwetha Ashokumar

Vikram Bhaskaran

Director of Marketing at Chargebee. Math talker, motorcycle rider and just-about-acceptable cook.