The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 12, 2010 • Issue 10:04:01
Automated, but not ignored, billing
Recurring billing does not particularly lend itself to monitoring. Yet the fact that payments are automated doesn't make them automatic. Things happen: cards expire, bank accounts get drained, customers change their minds and billing cycles end. And it behooves merchants who conduct recurring billing to be on top of these developments.
A new product from payment processor Slim CD Inc. enables merchants both to monitor and, as necessary, modify customers' recurring billing schedules through an interactive Web portal.
The product, Slim CD Enterprise, is essentially an expansion on the company's existing desktop software program for recurring billing, according to Frank Haggar, Slim CD Director of Product Development.
Billing in spades
In addition to being both a virtual terminal and shopping cart, Slim CD Enterprise functions both as a platform for recurring transactions and a reporting portal displaying extensive billing data that can be systematized in numerous ways.
"It does the recurring features, but also provides improved reporting information about recurring," Haggar said. "These reports focus primarily on scheduling of recurring billing, so you can identify how many people are going to be billed for how much money in the upcoming schedule of events or forecast projected information based on your known approval/decline ratio."
Merchants can use the program to collect, view and analyze almost every conceivable bit of data relating to their recurring billing programs. Access to the portal requires a user name and password.
Visitors can see exhaustive data, ranging from aggregated payment data to customers' spending histories, and can generate estimated forecasts of recurring billing revenue for a given time, based on transaction volume and approval and decline ratios.
Users can also sort customers by type of cards used, by time frames in which they've done business with the company, by payment due dates or by card expiration dates. All of this information can be used to secure revenue by spotting potential problems ahead of time, Haggar said.
For example, a merchant may wish to view every customer whose payment falls on the company's next billing date to make sure their cards are active. Or the merchant might view every customer whose payment card is set to expire in the coming months, giving the business time to contact those customers and minimize declined transactions.
"You can list customers and search by name, amount, invoice number - all kinds of criteria - or you can click on a particular transaction and use that to link back to the customer as well," Haggar said. " And when you get a list of customers, anytime you select a customer it shows you all of their activity. ... So you can come at it from a customer mentality or transactional mentality, and with either one it links back to the customer database record."
Haggar added that the program allows users to set any start or end date for a recurring billing schedule, including deferring the initial payment on an account to a specified day. All cardholder payment data is stored on the Slim CD server, while users of the program are given tokenized numbers to guard against data theft.
Slim CD Inc.
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