educational

Aggressive Customer Retention

Bruce Decker

How many members is your paysite losing each month to declined rebilling transactions? When your customer’s transaction fails or his card expires, what are you doing to retain that business? Chances are you’re doing whatever your gateway allows you to do – such as sending an automated e-mail to the customer and asking him to provide alternate credit card information or sign-up a new account.

How many of your customers actually respond to that approach? Would you personally respond to that approach? Sure, if your phone company sent you a letter asking you to provide another credit card, you’d do it – otherwise you would be losing an essential service. What about if one of those “CD of the Month Clubs” sent you a letter advising you that they couldn’t charge your card for this month’s CD? Would you be eager to call, navigate through menu-hell, wait in a queue, and provide some high school dropout with your alternate credit card information so that they could keep billing you month after month?

I sure wouldn’t. In fact, I’d probably be glad that I’m finally free of the monthly charges! Now, why should your customers feel any different? Be honest, is your paysite providing an essential service that your customers can’t live without or is it a luxury? We all know the answer to that question. If we want to retain customers who are lost due to expirations, we have to work a lot harder. We can’t expect customers to just roll over and hand us a new credit card. They aren’t sheep and they won’t do the work for us.

What else can be done to save these memberships? Quite a bit. For starters, a single automated e-mail is not going to cut it. If the customer doesn’t respond to the first e-mail, send a second one. If he ignores the second, send a third. If he ignores the third, pick up the phone and call him. We all know how long it takes to delete an e-mail – less than half a second for most of us. It is a lot harder to ignore a phone call. What if the customer isn’t home? Leave a message and then plan a follow-up call.

My company, AdultRep, calls customers up to four times and leaves four separate messages before actually giving up. Before we do that, we’ve already sent out at least three e-mails. Does it work? Yes, it does. Is it a lot of work? Yes, of course it is. There is no free lunch – a 1000-member paysite with an average number of declined rebilling transactions can expect to spend three to four hours each day with e-mails and phone calls to customers. The good news is that they can also expect to save about 20 accounts per month. If you’re charging $25 per month and those saved accounts stay on another three months, that adds up to an additional $1500 in revenue as a result of your efforts.

Why does it work? Your members are more likely to hand over their credit card details to a real woman who calls them up, develops a friendly rapport, and offers an immediate solution to the billing problem. Of course, not all customers will continue with the subscription. Some will be relieved that the transaction didn’t go through. However, our experience has shown us that enough customers have responded positively to make it a worthwhile investment in time and labor.

AdultRep calls customers on behalf of our clients and offers to solve their billing issues. We refuse to quit unless we’re completely ignored. Often times we’ve had to hunt customers down at work or at a new phone number (due to a move, for example), but we don’t quit until we fail to get any kind of response from a customer. Sometimes it actually does take four or five calls to get a customer on the phone and obtain new billing information. Each customer has his own schedule and some customers just don’t return calls. Because of this, we vary our follow-up calls to different times of the day to try and reach the customer when he’s at home.

If you would like to investigate the possibility of implementing a similar program for your paysite, we urge you to visit us at www.adultrep.com to learn more. Please also feel free to contact us directly at info@adultrep.com or 888-SITE-HELP.

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