by Clement Wang
Another month, another Zuora release – this month’s release is chock full of new customer-driven features. Here are a few highlights:
Enhanced Account Search: Our users like Katrena Drake at Firehost have been asking for more ways to search for accounts. As customers scale, being able to find the appropriate data quickly becomes more and more important in terms of answering customer inquiries, handling billing exceptions, etc. Our enhanced account search makes it easy to find the right customer account and their billing information instantaneously – even if you only have the last 4 digits of their credit card or their e-mail address.
Payment Retry Configurability: Anyone who processes credit cards (like Eric Chow at EMC) knows that it’s a complex proposition – especially when dealing with credit cards that have failed for one reason or another. Credit cards can fail for any number of reasons – they may have hit the credit limit (which may be a temporary condition), or the credit card may have been cancelled or had a stop put on it due to fraud. Merchants charging credit cards will want to optimize their policies on retrying failed payments to optimize the rate of collecting payments vs. transaction fees paid for unsuccessful retries, and then automate their payments processing to fit those policies. With this feature we allow customers to configure and automate their payment retries to optimize this tradeoff, allowing customers to collect payment more efficiently and cheaply.
Localized Formatting in Invoices and User Interface: One of the great things about SAAS and consumer web services is that it’s very easy to do business internationally. Zuora’s customers are located in 5 different continents and do business globally. To best communicate with customers, you need to be able to support invoicing in a format your global customers can easily understand. With this release, customers will be able to send out invoices with the correct date and number formats, and also configure their user interface to show dates in the native format of the user.
Enhanced Statement Capabilities: Billing is often thought of as a back-office function, but in reality it is heavily customer-facing. For many subscription businesses it is the most frequent form of direct communication to customers. If you get it wrong, you can potentially cause a lot of confusion and generate a lot of customer support questions, etc. Our April release allows much greater flexibility to customize your bills and statements to show exactly what you want to show to your customers. This was a key feature for our customer, Justin Groden at SpiceCSM, as it allows them to send out invoices that are customized to their business proceses.
New Payment Processor – Litle and Company: Zuora continues to add to the options for processing your payments. This month, we add the ability to process payments with Litle, a large payment processor that has some great features with respect to fraud and updaters etc. This will allow customers like Reputation Defender work with their preferred payment processing vendor.
Multi-Year Billing Terms: Several customers like David Katzoff at Local.com asked for this feature, which allows them to support business models that encourage retention and improve cash flow. For a subscription business, long-term contracts are good for business – being able to lock a customer into paying 2 years upfront vs. 1 year is a significant improvement in cash flow and helps to reduce churn. With this release Zuora introduces the ability to configure billing frequencies of greater than a year to give our customers the ability to support subscriptions that are charged on 18-month, 2-year all the way up to 5 year frequencies.