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Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Billing's Best Practices

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Billing's Best Practices
Stephen Yagielowicz

As with all modern merchants, online sellers of products and services, including adult paysite operators, must rely on payment processing to turn customers into cash. This process relies on reducing friction in the transaction funnel and instilling confidence in the consumer, making the careful construction of sites and sales and payment pages of paramount importance.

Aiding this construction is adherence to best practices, gleaned from years of experience, data collection and analysis, customer feedback, ongoing A/B testing and more. In order to provide our readers with a shortcut to success, XBIZ recently the sought the insights of several payment processing insiders as to “What billing best practices can your company recommend?”

Provide easy-to-use payment forms, tokenization for rebuys, easy subscription cancellation options, member retention options and mobile compatibility. [And] offer quality products and services that are clearly described pre-sale to the consumers.

Their responses are enlightening and provide a pathway to success:

NETbilling CEO Mitch Farber offered XBIZ a number of actionable steps for merchants to take.

“Provide easy-to-use payment forms, tokenization for rebuys, easy subscription cancellation options, member retention options and mobile compatibility,” Farber says. “[And] offer quality products and services that are clearly described pre-sale to the consumers.”

Farber advises adult merchants to post an anti-fraud statement on their website to warn thieves and consumers contemplating transaction fraud they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Maintain clear records of sale, including transaction logs, receipts, website logins and other fraud audit trails,” Farber explains. “For example, using a gateway like NETbilling provides access to dozens of reports and event logs, providing information that is extremely useful in combating fraud and fighting chargebacks and disputes.

“Be sure to provide 24/7 customer service, including telephone numbers, email addresses and chat communication for customers. NETbilling offers an in-house call center to handle this on your behalf, offering a plethora of services within for customer retention, dispute analysis, transaction verification and so much more,” he says, adding, “Use very clear billing descriptors so when your customers see the charge on their statement, they can easily identify the charge, and not immediately call their card issuer to dispute.”

Payze.com CEO Doug Wicks told XBIZ that clients should understand their consumer base and always match their needs with processing/payment acceptance.

“Companies should work with people, software, processors and banks that they can trust and that have been fighting for this industry for many years,” Wicks said. “This experience allows companies like Payze to match needs with the right solutions. Our ability to work with many players in this space allows us to focus on your business growth, and if we do this correctly, we continue to grow as well.”

This clear focus on the needs of the customer extends to offering targeted payment methods and more.

DIMOCO VP of sales Bettina Sommer told XBIZ that merchants can have a state-of-the-art website, an exciting product, even an amazing marketing and sales team — but they will not reach their revenue goals if they offer credit cards as their only payment option.

“It is a simple equation: users cannot pay using something they do not have, and will not if they find the checkout process is too much hassle,” Sommer says. “We never tire to repeat how low the credit card penetration (especially compared to the U.S.) in Europe actually is. Italy, for example, stands at only 40 percent, Poland at 17 percent and Hungary at 11 percent.”

Sommer points to direct carrier billing (DCB) as fast and anonymous, calling it “a perfect match for the adult industry.”

“[DCB is] hugely responsible for boosting conversion rates, resulting in a significant revenue uplift as the payment is easily facilitated by a simple one click (trans-) action,” Sommer says. “It is ideal for impulse purchases and available on all mobile devices — facilitated by a single API connection to bill customers internationally.”

Sommer says it is important for merchants to offer an array of payment options.

“A holistic approach guarantees that a potential customer, willing to spend his bucks, is not excluded in the checkout process because you don’t allow him to spend his money on your site. He will surely find another competitor to do so,” Sommer explains. “The two DIMOCO entities now handle online payments at their core as payment service providers. Our newest entity offers services to merchants, enabling them to process their payments from e-commerce environments.”

OrbitalPay VP Karen Campbell says the most critical aspect of best billing practices is maintaining the security of cardholder information and privacy — also known as PCI.

“Any billing company, storefront or website that processes or accepts credit cards is responsible if a breach occurs,” Campbell explains. “It is imperative to have the proper tools in place to protect your business and the information of your customers.”

SegPay CEO Cathy Beardsley agrees, advising merchants to “have your ducks in a row.”

“At any given time, we can be called for an audit by our acquiring or operating banks. We, as billers, are required to have all our KYC (Know Your Customer) documents up to date, and all sites in compliance, both in terms of content and website documentation (e.g. merchant address included on the website),” Beardsley explains. “As a merchant, it is crucial that you keep your business records up to date. How well organized SegPay is in the eyes of the card brands, acquirers and other banking institutions goes a long way in our success.”

This focus on the basics is echoed by ChargebackHelp’s Raja Roy-Choudhury, who says the old ways are the best ways.

“Good products and better customer service are the best billing practices,” Roy-Choudhury revealed. “Merchants that are sending legit transactions, that are keeping a tight lid on fraud, will always be in good shape with their billing.”

Gary Jackson, CCBill’s VP of sales and marketing, recommends merchants take a cue from the pro e-tail world and “make payments equally as important in your new project plan as the content, website and marketing strategies.”

“Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of a payments services provider early in the planning process offers you an instant springboard for identifying the best performing sales models, as well as all of the different ways to incorporate consumer-friendly payment and support functionality into each step of your site’s buyer lifecycle,” Jackson says. “Also, if you are working with a Payments-as-a-Service platform like CCBill, you can tap into a valuable marketplace of integrated software and business solutions made available from our Integration Partners program, to further help automate, and connect any operational or technology gaps well before it is time to launch.”

“By starting with payments as an integral part of your business planning,” Jackson told XBIZ, “not only do you create a seamless shopping and buying experience for each of your consumers, but you build a site specifically to maximize conversions and profitability.”

This initial blueprint for success is often overlooked but is one of the key benefits to working with a billing company that knows its business.

Mobius Payments’ Director of Sales Matthew Mund says it’s important for merchants to maintain a good working relationship with their processor(s) of choice.

“We are your advocate to the bank and we are on the side of the merchant!” Mund exclaimed. “A few other things I can think of include mitigating chargebacks with a multipronged approach of providing outstanding customer service, making it easy for a customer to get their problem resolved and depart from the interaction satisfied — a refund is always less expensive than a chargeback.”

Mund says another prong would be to set reasonable fraud-prevention processes in place in order to weed out the criminals.

“Simple things like requiring AVS and CVV dramatically reduce the number of fraudulent transactions coming through,” Mund explains. “The third prong and last line of defense is to have a good chargeback management program in place. Ask me how we can help.”

Outhouz CEO Christon “Doop” Le’John says although the adult industry has built a framework for much of the innovation happening on the web today, these days he hardly sees any building happening at all.

The company is behind the Titcoin adult cryptocurrency, and as such operates on the bleeding edge of online payment processing.

“I’ve noticed a lot of single-mindedness when looking toward the future lately which defeats the purpose of seeking out what’s next in the first place — so diversify as much as possible and build or buy your own solutions,” Le’John advises. “We live in a tech-oriented landscape, and the adult industry is very capable of taking innovation back to where much of it began.”

Vendo CTO Buddy Love points to KYC, saying, “Never before has this been more true for our industry.”

“Those providing comprehensive services and managing risk for merchants must be vigilant and understand their audiences,” Love explains. “For example, the U.K.’s new Digital Economy Act presents a unique problem for anyone with a global audience.”

Love says that to be effective in today’s economy you have to be able to act accurately on the fly — something the company enables via its advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

“Vendo looks at each individual transaction and compares it to thousands of other similar payments already processed to look for red flags and act appropriately in the merchant’s best interests,” Love told XBIZ, advising merchants to focus on ease and transparency. “Usability is important in this new era of information. Millennials are the new generation in charge and they expect easy and intuitive interfaces, so making it easy and transparent during the sales funnel will save a lot of headaches and chargebacks.”

On the subject of love, Love says that merchants need it too...

“Our merchants work hard. Extra hard. What worked in the past to make money can take twice the effort today to make the same,” Love says. “Vendo continuously invests in our platform and tools to help our merchants grow. We are the only company that offers continuous testing of customized sales funnels.”

Love advises businesses to invest in AI, saying industry-wide modernization would benefit everyone.

“We cannot stress this enough — the future is already here and billers need to modernize. Computers already outperform humans in many tasks that we take for granted, so why count with your fingers when you have a calculator?” Love asks, noting, “This is the same question we ask ourselves when we keep investing in AI for risk, pricing, analytics and reporting. We have enough computer power to make our clients’ lives easier.”

It is a stance that merchants should adopt as well — make your clients’ lives easier — and this is perhaps billing’s best practice.

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