The security services industry is being transformed on many fronts, including recurring automated billing software. When Cornerstone Billing Solutions was founded in 1999, recurring billing was still quite manual. With 80%+ of payments made via paper check. Today, autopay via ACH debit or credit card constitutes more than 75% of subscriber payments across all of our security dealers. That’s been a truly amazing – and welcome – improvement…and a big time and money saver. The easier you make it for your customers, the more efficient it will make your business.
Automated billing software has been the key to help drive the 20-year migration from clunky manual / paper payments to low-maintenance autopay. Good software can now handle generating the recurring invoice and creating the payment transaction—two sides of the same coin.
Auto-Billed is Auto-Paid
Cornerstone’s system handles automated billing. The process of running a recurring billing batch simultaneously creates the payment batches for the bills that were run. If it’s March, we are running several billing batches for the cycles beginning April 1st. Whether they be monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual cycles. Our automated billing software exports encrypted files containing the data we need to process the charges. This includes card or ACH bank information, charge amount, cycle being paid, and payment date.
These days, forcing an autopay subscriber to a single payment date during the month is not very customer forward. Customers demand flexibility when it comes to payment for any service, and that means that you should offer at least two payment date options. Cornerstone’s dealers can opt for up to four payment dates during a month—1st, 8th, 15th or 22nd. One will work for nearly any subscriber.
Email Complements Autopay
Many subscribers who sign up for autopay insist on also getting an emailed ‘heads up’ that their Visa or Discover or bank account will be hit on X date for Y dollars as payment for Z security services over a specified date range. Good quality automated billing software will send out those email notices as part of the billing process. Emails avoid surprises and dramatically reduce the number of inbound calls dealers get, asking “why did you charge my card?” The customer already received their notice, with all the invoice details needed.
Enormous Time & Money Savings
Handling your own invoice and payment processing proves time consuming. Simply printing and mailing an invoice involves a few minutes of printing, stuffing, mailing, plus out-of-pocket costs for postage, envelopes, and paper/ink. If a dealer’s office staff receives a check payment, there are several more steps—opening the envelope, looking up the invoice, posting the payment, preparing a deposit, etc. Even taking a credit card payment over the phone involves several expensive, time-consuming steps, including time on the call itself. That is where autopayment can come in. Cornerstone’s system and automated billing software pre-posts all autopays, no additional work required. We handle the reconciliation of all recurring payments, and tie things out at the end of each month to simplify accounting.
Good software instantly handles all the repetitive and largely clerical tasks involved in billing and taking payments—an enormous savings in time and energy. For our busy security dealer customers, this gives them back several hours each month. With competition from large companies & DIY offerings etc. our dealers desperately need that time to be pro-active with their subscribers and pipeline of prospects.
Getting to 95% Autopay: Online Payments!
As wonderful as 75% autopay sounds, that can still leave 25% in the clunky manual category. But there is hope—put up an online payment portal! Most people are in front of a computer several hours daily. Just print on invoices: “Pay this bill online at www.Alarmpayments.com” and you’ll find that many subscribers will do exactly that.
The best sites will offer an easy yet secure login method and will bring subscribers directly to their open invoices. At that point, they simply check a box and check out with a card or bank debit payment. You can expect that 60 – 80%+ of non-autopay subscribers will take advantage of the payment site. If your automated billing software can post online payments, suddenly you have automated billing and payments for up to 95% of your subscribers. THAT means a lot less time on the routine billing stuff, as your staff can focus on the 5-10% of exceptions such as slow pays.
In a nutshell, great software can and should simplify your business, and save you lots of money and time over the long haul.