I hope this finds you and your loved ones in good health.
We're all witnessing the effect that COVID-19 is having on businesses throughout the world. As consumers try to conserve their own resources, businesses can expect to receive more cancellation requests than usual.
Here are some useful tips to help you be flexible and keep your customer base:
1. Communicate candidly and clearly with your customers:
During this period, transparent communication with customers is a necessity. A lot of businesses have started displaying messages on their home pages, explaining their BCP (Business Continuity Process) and other important announcements they want to convey to their customers.
As an additional means of communication, you can use the banner message in the customer portal of Zoho Subscriptions. The banner message is visible in the home page of the portal, so it can help get the customer's attention quickly. You can set up this message under Settings > Preferences > Branding > Portal settings.
2. Put renewals on a temporary hold:
i) Pause and resume subscriptions
It's a good idea to provide your customers the option to freeze their subscriptions temporarily, rather than canceling them altogether. By giving them an option to pause their subscriptions, you are letting your customers know that they can rely on you when it's time to resume. It's also a good way to encourage customers to stick with you for their next purchase instead of switching vendors.
Here's how you can pause a subscription in Zoho Subscriptions:
You can still perform automatic actions while a subscription is paused, through Zapier.
ii) Extend the billing date:
Even customers who love your service may have difficulty paying for it on time right now. One way to keep these customers from canceling is to push back the date for their next subscription payment. By offering uninterrupted service and a little more time to pay, you're giving them a good reason to remain loyal. To do this, just update the subscription's Next Billing Date in Zoho Subscriptions and they won't be charged until the new date.
3. Be approachable:
As a standard business practice, you might have set up automatic payment reminders in Zoho Subscriptions to go out on specific days before or after the invoice due date. However, given the current circumstances, you can definitely expect delays in payment.
Since you have control over the content that goes out in these reminder emails, think about rephrasing it to let your customers know that if they need any assistance, they can reach out to you by phone or email. This way, your finance team doesn't have to wait and wonder whether the customer will make their payment or not, or spend time sending extra emails. You can tweak your reminder email content under Settings > Reminders.
By making it easy for your customers to approach you and treating them on a case-by-case basis, you can actually bring down the number of unpaid transactions.
4. Offer credits:
Another way to earn the customer's goodwill is to create special offers to assist them. For instance, Zoho's Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) offers subscription credits to businesses in need. If you want to adopt a similar practice for your business, you can create credit notes in Zoho Subscriptions and enable the Redeem Credit Notes option so that it is automatically applied for the upcoming renewal.
5. Don't auto-cancel services upon non-payment:
Most subscription businesses have automated their billing process in such a way that if the customer doesn't pay, the subscription is automatically canceled. While this is a good practice most of the time, you might want to adopt a flexible approach during this crisis.
Instead of letting the subscriptions be canceled automatically, you can monitor the Under Risk report in Zoho Subscriptions, and contact those customers to suggest alternate payment arrangements for your services.
6. Know why your customers leave:
During difficult times, businesses and customers alike aim to cut costs and reduce their spending. If your customers are canceling right now, make sure you give them a chance to say why they're leaving. You might be able to retain them by offering some flexibility, or it may be best to reach out to them later and see if they're ready to come back. Even if you can't keep them as a customer, knowing why they left still helps you improve your service going forward.
In Zoho Subscriptions, you have the option to make the Cancelation Reason field mandatory. You can configure this under Settings > Preferences > Subscription > Cancellation Preferences.
Though some of these tips might have a negative effect on your finances temporarily, they can gain you long-term benefits like customer loyalty and customer retention, which will help your business recover more easily.
Did you find these tips useful? Can you think of some other best practices that businesses can use to get through difficult times? Let us know in the comments.
Note from Zoho: If you need any assistance regarding Zoho Subscriptions, our support team is available 24 hours a day, Monday-Friday. You can also reach out to us through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone. Because Zoho recognizes that our own customers may be facing difficult times right now, we have rolled out an Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) to help small businesses through this crisis. Learn more about this program.
Take care and stay safe! We'll get through this storm together.
Customer Relations | Zoho Finance