Involuntary churn in action: Merlin Membership

We’ve written a lot recently about churn and how it can impact your business. We’ve even written a free book about twenty ways to reduce churn and retain more customers. But recently, I involuntarily churned myself with one of my subscription services, and it was interesting to see how they handled the involuntary churn.

I’m a theme park fan. I love the exhilaration of a high-speed rollercoaster, the fear of a hairpin turn, and the excitement of a themed attraction. To scratch this itch I have a Merlin Membership – it gets me into all of the UK’s most significant theme parks for a low monthly payment. Recently, however, I changed credit cards, causing my membership payment to fail – we call this involuntary churn. Involuntary churn occurs when a customer's payment is declined owing to outdated information, such as an inaccurate card expiration date, incorrect billing address, insufficient money, or some other non-business-related reason. Unlike voluntary churn, a subscription firm can manage involuntary churn in advance or reduce involuntary churn. I thought it’d be interesting to look at how Merlin communicated with me to try and get my membership back on track. Here’s Merlin’s dunning flow – an industry term for a series of reminders that help you to get paid.

Day one

Merlin was very quick to email me to advise of the issue and asked me to login to my account to update my details. They immediately moved my subscription into a suspended state – stopping me from using the services until I started paying again.

With Billsby, you can do this easily. In your dunning settings, you can decide at exactly which point you want to change the customer’s subscription status. Then, using our API, you can check the status of the customer’s subscription at point of use. To meet both payment and customer life-cycle objectives, subscription organizations must take a holistic strategy to address involuntary churn.

Day two

Precisely 24 hours later, Merlin sent the next dunning email. The copy of this email was almost the same – with only the header changing. I think 24 hours is a bit early to send another reminder – if the customer couldn’t pay yesterday, they’re unlikely to be able to pay today. With Billsby, you can select exactly how long you want to wait between dunning attempts.

Day seven

Merlin waited six days before sending their third dunning email. This time, the copy of the email changed, and the warnings inside became more severe. This content escalation can be an effective way to secure payment. With Billsby, you can customize the copy of each of your dunning emails to use the same escalation technique as Merlin.

Restarting the relationship

I waited for another eleven days to see if Merlin sent another email, but they didn’t – and I wanted my theme park fix – so I updated my card details. Sending an email like this one when everything is back on track is a great way to restart the relationship, remind your customers of the benefits of their account and thank them for their continued business. With Billsby, you can send a restart email like this one at the end of every successful dunning flow. And if things don’t go so well, we can automatically cancel the customer’s account. While both voluntary and involuntary churn are significant concerns for subscription organizations, eliminating involuntary churn necessitates implementing a distinct set of methods to keep recurring payments flowing and avoid revenue loss. Request a demo today to see how dunning in Billsby could work for your subscription business.