So you’re in the market for recurring billing software. Whether you are just getting started in your business or have come to the conclusion that your time is better spent by outsourcing your billing to the experts, you are starting to search the options. It takes some work to dig down deep into the details of what each billing software company and payment processor offers to know exactly what you might be getting. What you do want to do is pay close attention to those details. The only thing worse than getting set up for billing services once, is needing to do it twice.
A fatal flaw in the service of many of these providers is that many of them won’t share with you your customers’ payment information.
So let’s say you decide to switch merchant accounts or the software you use two years from now as a way to cut costs or get better service. You’ve built up a good customer base by that point. You ask for your information from your current company and what do they tell you? No, you can’t have it. They’ve locked you in to their services for the life of your customer’s contract. They’ll keep doing your billing for you, of course, but if you really want to switch your billing process, you’re left to reconstruct your entire list of customer information. This means asking your customers once again for their payment information. That’s time consuming, it won’t make you look good, and it could cause your customers to rethink their subscriptions (think of what happened to Netflix when they made their customers rethink their subscriptions). This is likely a hassle you don’t want.
It’s hard to believe, but it is true: The decisions you make right now regarding your recurring billing provider(s) might lock you in and limit you in the future. You may not ever want to change your services, but nobody wants to be trapped or stuck because a company you’re working with refuses to be flexible or reasonable. Would you really want a company who is supposed to be working for you to have such power over the future decisions you want to make for your business?
As best as we can figure it, these companies (who are big players in the recurring billing industry), blame this refusal to return your customers’ payment information on the strict Payment Card Industry guidelines they’re required to follow. While the Payment Card Industry does have strict regulations for keeping customers’ information secure, the rules don’t mean it has to be impossible for you to get the information that is vital to your business.
Your business data ought to be portable.
You should have the right to move it from one company to another at your request and not be locked in for life. If you are looking for recurring billing providers you will want to ask about data portability and get a detailed answer. You’ll want to know who stores your customers’ credit card information and what happens to that information should you want it back.
At Crowne One, we believe in data portability. We don’t lock you or your customers in for life. If you want to go somewhere else, you should be able to do that. You don’t work for us, we work for you. Your information isn’t ours, it’s yours. When you want your information, we’ll give it to you, securely and according to the Payment Card Industry’s requirements.
Don’t regret the recurring billing decision you’re making today. Read the fine print. Ask questions about data portability. That way, if you need to choose some other option two, five, or ten years down the road, you will be free to do so.