Every startup with a subscription model knows that recurring payments and subscription-based billing are extremely convenient. After all, you have predictable revenue coming in every month from a customer once you get past that initial sale. But what do you do when a credit card payment inevitably fails for a customer?
The reality is that many startups don’t have a process in place to recover revenue lost to failed credit card payments. In fact, our data suggests that SaaS and subscription businesses lose around 9% of their recurring revenue to payment issues, on average. Luckily, there are automated solutions that can not only recoup these losses, but improve other key business metrics as well.
In this post, we’ll talk about what dunning processes and solutions are, why startups should use a dunning solution, and how Baremetrics automates the dunning process.
What is a Dunning Solution?
Dunning solutions are payment recovery software that use automation to communicate with customers and collect payments. These solutions help you implement an automated dunning process — which is the way you recover failed payments from your customers.
When a payment fails you have two options: lose out on revenue by doing nothing or follow up to recover the payment. And if you don’t have a dunning process in place, you’ve chosen the first option by default. Here’s a visual of what a dunning process usually looks like in SaaS:
The original meaning of the term "dun" meant to demand payment for a debt, but a dunning process can be much more nuanced than spamming customers like a debt collector to recover revenue. An effective dunning process can proactively resolve potential payment issues, reduce unnecessary subscription cancellations, and even improve customer engagement.
Building a positive dunning experience for customers requires sending useful and friendly reminders to help them make timely payments. However, it’s hard to manually send out dunning emails to customers as your business grows.
Dunning solutions for startups automate the revenue recovery process with email campaigns and in-app notifications. This ensures your startup gets paid faster so that you have the cash flow necessary to scale.
Why startups should use a Dunning Solution
The right dunning solution proactively resolves payment issues and therefore can help your startup run more smoothly. Here’s four examples.
1. Avoid recurring revenue loss
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the most important metric for SaaS and subscription businesses. It allows you to measure and predict revenue using a single, consistent number. This helps you track the growth of your subscription-based revenue startup over time.
An effective dunning solution can help you prevent a loss of MRR. This may not be glamorous, but it’s already hard enough for many startups to grow MRR — and it’s even harder when you’re losing revenue due to failed payments at the same time. You’ve already made the sale, so why would you let that revenue go without doing anything about it?
2. Reduce churn
Churn — when a subscription is canceled, downgraded, paused, or delinquent — is often the biggest roadblock for growing MRR. Although churn is usually a deliberate choice by customers, there are also many cases where churn is involuntary. For example, when a failed payment goes unresolved long enough that the customer’s subscription is not renewed.
It may seem obvious, but it often costs startups much more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. That means reducing involuntary churn is a crucial way to grow MRR over the long term. The problem is that many startups put too little effort into preventing involuntary churn.
Some of the most common causes of involuntary churn are simple credit card issues – like incorrect card details or an expired card – that prevent you from collecting a payment. Since customers may not even know their payment has failed, reminding them to update their payment information could be the difference between keeping a satisfied customer or losing one due to neglect.
An automated dunning solution is the best defense against involuntary churn. Timely payment reminders, in-app notifications, and paywalls can all help you ensure your customers are aware of potential payment issues that would impact their subscription.
3. Increase meaningful customer engagement
Consistent recurring revenue comes from customers that are happy with your product and service. An effective dunning process is an opportunity to engage with your customers in a way that contributes to their overall positive customer experience.
The right dunning solution can transform an annoying request like asking someone to update their credit card into a positive customer touchpoint that shows your business values them as a customer.
How to do this? Communicate with your customers in the same way you did when you initially won them over as a customer. The key points here are sounding like a human and adding some customization to your emails.
Sounding like a human might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many SaaS companies talk to their customers like robots.
And as far as customization goes… by addressing the recipient by their name in the email, click-through-rate can be increased up to 35%. By putting some effort into your dunning email campaigns, you can build stronger customer relationships and recover lost revenue at the same time.
4. Build a product that provides a seamless customer experience
As we discussed with involuntary churn, many customers who have failed payments actually want to continue with their subscription. That means any disruption to their service due to a failed payment can quickly turn them from a satisfied customer to a dissatisfied one. To avoid this, you need to notify customers as soon as there could be a potential issue.
Dunning solutions provide in-app notifications about outdated payment information or other issues to help customers avoid failed payments and involuntary churn. In-app paywalls can also encourage customers to update their payment information so that they don’t risk losing access to your product.
By being prompt in your outreach, you can make sure there aren't any unnecessary disruptions with their ability to use your product.
How the dunning process works with Baremetrics
Baremetrics gives SaaS and subscription companies real-time visibility into their revenue and customers. Your startup will be able to track key metrics like MRR and churn to make better decisions to scale your business.
More importantly, Baremetrics’ Recover feature is a one-stop shop for automated dunning management. You can set up custom dunning email campaigns and in-app notifications reminding customers to update their payment information or fix other payment issues. Automated email drip campaigns are pre-loaded within Recover to help you quickly get started.
If you’re already using Baremetrics, great! Your account is already set up with your payment processor, so once you enable Recover you can immediately begin recovering revenue and reducing churn.
Unlike other dunning solutions for startups, Recover is also integrated with the rest of the Baremetrics platform's data tracking capabilities. This enables you to dig deeper into the most common reasons for failed payments, how dunning emails are performing, and a timeline of individual customer dunning experiences.
The best part? On average, Recover pays for itself 38x over. After a one-time setup, your startup can begin automatically recovering revenue and reducing churn to grow your business. Start a free trial of Recover today.