Author Archives: fusebill

Fusebill Mitigates Risk For Users After Heartbleed Bug

Heartbleed Risk

The Heartbleed vulnerability was exposed recently.

The Internet has been buzzing this week about a bug named Heartbleed (Information at heartbleed.com).

Many popular websites including large sites like Facebook, Pinterest and others have made patches to their programs to mitigate risks.

For users, the danger lies in a bug in many programs that use a specific encryption software called OpenSSL. The bug made it potentially possible for hackers and hacker bots to gain access to username and password information.

It’s also possible that other information may have been available. You may have received an email from various websites recommending you to change your passwords.

Heartbleed: A Vulnerability In Software

Heartbleed is not a virus or something that’s been uploaded to a website or to your accounts. It was a vulnerability, bug or error in the OpenSSL software that may have been taken advantage of by hackers.

Security companies continually look for these vulnerabilities and alerted the OpenSSL community. Those using the software were made aware of the threat and many moved quickly to make necessary changes.

Potential Losses And Tracking

The Heartbleed bug potentially exposed valuable information saved on the servers of some websites. Usernames, passwords and potential credit card and other information may have been compromised.

One issue with the Heartbleed is that is appears that it is not possible to track to see if information has been taken or compromised.

Companies are simply fixing the issues, which in some cases requires extensive changes, and alerting users to change passwords.

Fusebill Takes Action

Major sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others took quick action to fix the issues. Tools made to test for the vulnerability quickly found that these sites have no issue anymore and were likely fixed before any information was compromised.

Smaller sites have taken action too. Again, you may have received information about the potential threat and the suggestion to change your information.

Fusebill took action to mitigate risks as well. The risks associated with Heartbleed are now resolved and information is secure.

Recommendations

The recommendation when vulnerabilities like Heartbleed occur is to go in and change your password on any site that may have been affected.

It’s also recommended that you change passwords on sites that may have been unaffected. The reason for this is that you might use the same password on different sites. A hacker or hacker bot could have gotten access to your password on an affected site and could have it for the other sites and networks you use online even if that site went unaffected.

So it’s good to change your passwords and to use different passwords if possible. A password software can also make it easier for you to use different passwords for different accounts while making it more secure for you to login to all the websites you access and use.

One example of a password program is LastPass.

LastPass was one of the sites affected, but due to their unique encryption setup LastPass users were not affected.

Bugs like Heartbleed do pop up from time to time. They’ll continue to pop up in the future so it’s good to use a password program to protect your passwords along with the other recommendations in this article.

The main thing is that while using Fusebill you don’t have to worry about the Heartbleed bug anymore.

At Fusebill, we’re always monitoring the safety of any information associated with our software and systems. We work to quickly make any fixes necessary and that was the case with Heartbleed.

If you have any questions about Heartbleed, Fusebill or other items please contact us or leave your comments below.

How To Make Your Online Subscription Page More Trustworthy

Making a purchase is a mix of emotion and logic. Some studies find that emotion may play a large role, but other studies refute those findings.

Either way, when people make decisions they’re often using trust when deciding based on logic or emotion. For example, a person might visit an online store and get a good feeling from the friendly design and the storytelling nature of the product descriptions. This is emotional trust.

In another example, a person might purchase something based on multiple recommendations. These recommendations are available facts and data from trusted sources that lead to a logical purchasing decision.

Because trust is so important in the buying process, it’s important to make sure that your subscription page is trustworthy enough to convert potential buyers.

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Clear Pricing And Description

Online Subscription Page Amazon

Amazon Prime is very popular. On the subscription page, Amazon lists the description in easy-to-read bullet points and the price terms are easy to see as well. See: 30-Day Free Trial and $99/year. Also, noting that customers can cancel at anytime provides a guarantee.

Confusion is a conversion killer. If your website visitor doesn’t completely understand what they’re paying for on your subscription site you run the risk of losing their business.

Keep the design simple. Keep the product title and description the same as they are on other pages on the site and most importantly, make sure the final price is visible.

Clear pricing and descriptions show that you’re not trying hide anything or trying to pull one over on people and you look trustworthy.

2. Highlight Your Customer Service

Online Subscription Page Go Daddy

Go Daddy offers a variety of subscription services including their ecommerce platform. Notice the bullet for their customer support. This lets people know that there is someone there to help them at all times. It’s especially important for those in the tech world.

In one study, people highlighted customer service as the number one factor in their determination of how much they should trust a company.

People want to know that they can count on you to be there for them after they make their purchase. They might be excited about the product or service, but in most cases something will go wrong at some point. People realize this and they’re fine with it, but they want to know that someone will be there if there is an issue or a question.

On your subscription page, add a short sentence or even a short tagline highlighting your customer service. It might be an industry award for “Best In Industry Support” or “24/7/365 Support By Phone Or Email”.

It’s just a little reminder that can make a difference for many customers.

3. Offer A Guarantee And Make It Visible

Online Subscription Page Basecamp

Some people have commitment issues. Ensuring that they can get a refund can push them over the edge to purchase even though they probably won’t request a refund. (via Basecamp)

Guarantees have been around for a long time. The reason so many companies use guarantees is because they work to reassure customers that they can go back on their purchase if the product or service doesn’t live up to promises made.

If you have chosen to offer a guarantee for your subscription product, make that guarantee visible somewhere on the subscription page. It gives your company credibility and earns trust in the eyes of the customer.

4. Use Words Or Logos To Offer Security Assurance

Online Subscription Page Moz

This is the Moz subscription page. Notice the logo for Norton Secured. That gives people comfort knowing that the information is protected on some level.

Security is a big concern with online users. It seems there is a new story about online information hacking every other day and people are concerned. They don’t want their email addresses and other information being compromised or used for unintended purposes.

If you use secure pages and security programs, say it on your subscription page and use logos of recognized companies to emphasize the fact that your subscription transaction is a secure one.

5. Use Logos To Add Clarity

Online Subscription Page Golf Digest

When people subscribe to Golf Digest they know exactly what they’re getting by seeing the images.

Finally, logos add visual assurance to people using your subscription page. It’s important to show your logo and any recognizable product or service logos. These give potential customers one final visual confirmation that they’re purchasing the correct product.

For example, if you’re selling a publishing company, show the logo of the specific title the customer is purchasing. The title listed in text is good, but the logo next to that text adds more reassurance and further trust.

Conclusion

Trust is a critical element in the buying process. Your customers have to determine if they trust you enough to click the final “Buy” button on your subscription page. If there is any potential lack in trust you risk losing a new customer.

Use the suggestions in this post to improve your subscription page. They can help to make the page trustworthy with customers.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Call or email one of our experts at info@fusebill.com or 888.519.1425. Or, check out the Fusebill free trial.

GetApp Reviews Fusebill 2014

GetAppYesterday GetApp, the #1 Business Apps Marketplace published  a review of Fusebill 2014:

Inflexible billing platforms make it difficult for businesses that offer client subscriptions to manage their company finances. Complex price lists, annual renewals, and pro-rated fees are just a few of the advanced-level billing practices that are impossible for most traditional invoicing platforms to handle. Fusebill aims to be a solution for B2B and B2C companies that are looking to reduce both costs and the time it takes to collect on client invoices.

In this Fusebill review, I will explore the recurring billing and payment platform. Throughout the review, I will pay particular attention to Fusebill’s updated user interface (UI), which makes Fusebill incredibly easy for businesses to use. Finally, I will take a look at the customer support and service options available to Fusebill clients.

Click here to read the full review

Transparent Redirect: The Superman of Online Payment

SupermanIs PCI compliance the Kryptonite of your business?  Is payment information collection the Lex Luther to your company?  Then Great Scott! This looks like a job for SUPERMAN!

Errr… I mean TRANSPARENT REDIRECT!

Yes, we’re being a little silly, but transparent redirect or direct post really do seem like a superhero to companies that sell online, especially those who sell by subscription.

What is it?

Transparent redirect lets your business process credit cards from your website without having to pass them through your server. Which means none of your customers sensitive, cardholder data is stored on your system and you can conduct business on your website (instead of making people pick up the phone and call you, or by sending them to another website like PayPal), without having to deal with the expense, work, or burden of keeping their information secure.

How does it Work?

Basically, when a customer purchases something on your website using a credit card form, the form data, such as credit card number, expiry date, etc. is submitted to Fusebill for processing. Your customer is the redirected to your success or failure page and you receive the results using an API call.

Do customers know?

No. Your customers will have no idea they ever left your website because Fusebill transparent redirect is faster than a speeding bullet, customers never see anything but your web pages – never Fusebill.

Sounds hard, right?

Something that removes the burden of PCI compliance, keeps customers on your website, and provides an online payment method has to be difficult to implement, right?  Wrong. It’s really just a few simple like building a form for your website that includes a hidden field with a redirect URL, and a unique identifier, some API calls, and that’s it. Your developer can probably do it with one hand tied behind his or her back.

Up, up, and away!

It’s amazing that something that happens so fast and totally behind the scenes can be so beneficial to your business, but transparent redirect really is like a superhero in that way. Not only does it allow you to keep customers on your website, it drastically reduces the burden of PCI compliance because it allows you to never process or transmit sensitive data.

Want to know more about transparent redirect or the Fusebill API? Call or email one of our experts at info@fusebill.com or 888.519.1425. Or, check out Fusebill for yourself by taking our fully featured, free trial

Agile Billing – The New Essential for Business Innovation

ForbesYesterday, Forbes’ Andrew Dailey wrote a great post on agile billing. In the article Dailey not only gives a great definition, but explains what’s driving the shift to agile billing – realities such as shrinking business cycles and the inflexibility of legacy billing systems.

Modern billing solutions such as Fusebill have an attractive, consumer-style interface which means customers and business partners can access the billing system directly – and reduce the burden on customer support centers.

A quiet revolution is taking place in the most unlikely of places.  Boardroom pressure to deliver revenue growth and gain competitive differentiation is pushing companies to create new products and services.  Customers are demanding more granularity, flexibility, and transparency with prices.  The combination of these forces is driving companies to re-think their billing systems.  Formerly the domain of back-office clerks, billing and monetization processes and solutions are becoming critical ingredients enabling corporate innovation.

Read the full article on Forbes online

A Closer Look at the Fusebill Price Catalog

Fusebill Products and PlansOne of our favourite features in Fusebill 2014 is the Product Catalog, which is where you describe your product and services.

Designed with a hierarchical structure – plans are built from combinations of products.

 Basic Terminology

  • Products define “what” is sold.
  • Plans bundle together products and define “How” and “How Much”.
  • Customers subscribe to Plans.

Products and Plans act as a template for setting pricing, so you define how you want to charge, (one-time, usage, or recurring) as well as your default pricing. However, as products and plans are assigned to a particular customer you also have the opportunity to override the default pricing to create customer specific pricing.

Important Points about Plans

  • Plans have prices of their own, as well as any pricing specified with the included products.
  • Plans specify an initial (setup) fee and a recurring charge;
  • A single plan can include pricing for different payment schedules (monthly, quarterly, annual) so you don’t need to create a new plan for each variation.

Products? Do I have to?

No, you don’t. Products are optional so you don’t have to create any if you don’t want to. In fact, if you have a straightforward pricing model that only contains a setup fee and a recurring fee, then a plan is sufficient.

When Should I Create a Product?

While you don’t need to create products, they do of course have their place, below are various scenarios for when products should be used.

  • You want to report on them;
  • They are an optional offering;
  • There are charges associated with them;
  • The invoice needs to display a line item;
  • Customers can buy multiple instances;
  • You want to control revenue recognition;
  • To link a purchase to an option in the provisioning system;
  • Inventory tracking.

Best Practice Guidelines

There is a natural tendency for products and plans to proliferate to accommodate special offers, promotions or client needs. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a large product catalog, a smaller catalog is easier to manage, understand, and report on. You’ll find that with a little planning, the versatility of Products and Plans allow you to keep your product catalog simple and uncluttered and resist the tendency to grow.

Keep the following in mind as you plan your catalog – and feel free to consult with your Fusebill team for advice.

  • Products can be used in multiple plans.
  • Products can be optional components in a plan. Use optional products to create upgrade paths or special offers.
  • Plans can have their own charges, which are added to the product charges. These Plan Charges can be zero.
  • Plans contain pricing for multiple time intervals. Don’t create one plan for a monthly charge and another for an annual. Just add an interval to the plan.
  • Similarly, plans contain pricing information for each currency. Don’t create a different price plan for each currency.
  • To give different pricing to a specific client, use price overrides.
  • Create a ‘Super Plan’ that contains all of your products (as optional).  This makes it easy to satisfy a la carte purchases.

usebill Webinar RegistrationIf you’d like to see more of Fusebill, join Fusebill CEO Steve Adams for a live Product Demo via webcast, today at 2:00 PM Eastern. You can register here.

Or, if you prefer to explore Fusebill on your own, take a fully featured free trial and see for yourself how easy it is to build your price catalog!

Swimming in SKUs? Keep Agile with Subscription Pricing

Swimming in SKUsDealing with changes in pricing is a significant challenge in any business. The rise of subscription based retailing magnifies the complexity – pricing plans and paradigms proliferate, while individual customers require specific charges and adjustments to their accounts. The result? Vast lists of SKUs, ordering complexity, and confusion.

To understand the value of agility in a subscription billing environment, let’s examine a billing lifecycle from two perspectives. First, we’ll look at the lifecycle of a pricing plan – initiated by a marketing program, introduced for sale, and eventually retired. Then we’ll look at the typical customer lifecycle events that create their own pricing challenges.

As a specific example that is easy to relate to, we’ll use a fictional men’s hygiene subscription box with some a la carte options:

  • Razor Blade service $10/month
  • Shaving Cream service $10 / month
  • Premium Skin Creams $20/month
  • Razor handle: $20 one time
  • Premium Razor Set: $50 one time

Now, the marketing team goes to work:

  • Let’s bundle Blades and Shaving Cream together and give a discount to $15
  • Can we sell Skin Creams at a lower price to encourage people to try? Just for those with the bundles?
  • There should be more incentive to sign up for an annual contract. Let’s make Razor 1 free with an annual subscription.
  • What about the Premium Razor – ok, it should be $30 for an annual plan.
  • We should test the bundle at $18 as well.

There are now 96 separate variations of what is, all-in-all, a reasonably simple packaging idea. A customer can order the blade service, or not; the shaving cream service, or not; the extra premium creams, or not; choose one, both or neither razor; commit to an annual plan. Some customers will see one price test, some will be at a higher price point. Over time, more variations are created for further promotions; some are retired; some are grandfathered.

A traditional approach is to translate each one of these variations into a separately identifiable ‘part number’ or SKU. This makes it: difficult to order, track results, and analyze what is working. While it’s easy to tell which individual variant is performing well, even simple questions like “how many customers chose Razor 2” requires aggregating data from multiple SKUs.

Now consider a typical customer experience as seen through the eyes of a CSR (Customer Service Rep)

Typical Customer/CSR experience

In coming weeks, a typical customer might upgrade their package; change razors; upgrade to an annual plan, and receive a free month of service to compensate for a service problem. Each transaction involves removing and replacing SKUs, generating a string of confusing entries on the bill that may generate more questions. Manual attempts to pro rate charges to align with the billing cycle are error prone.

This simple example illustrates how complex it can be to implement even straightforward bundles of products and service. This complexity complicates ordering, customer service and reporting. Further on, accounting groups must also decipher events to apply appropriate revenue recognition policies.

A subscription billing system provides agility by structuring pricing catalogs to minimize the proliferation of products, plans and variations, and automated tools for dealing with common customer service issues.

This article is a taste of what Fusebill CEO Steve Adams will be covering in a new, live webcast on March 20th. If you’d like to know more about this topic, register today:

usebill Webinar RegistrationSwimming in SKUs? Keeping Agile with Subscription Pricing
When: 2:00 PM, March 20th, 2014
Cost: Free
Presenter: Steve Adams, CEO Fusebill

Please Note: This webcast is being presented in partnership with CPA academy and is worth 1.0 CPA credits.
Bonus: As a thanks for attending you’ll get a copy of our popular whitepaper The Impact of Billing on a Subscription World absolutely free!
REGISTER NOW!

How painful is your billing system?

The importance of the billing system means that a lot of businesses live with a lot of pain and anguish caused by their traditional system failing. Only when the pain becomes unbearable do they seriously think about doing something about it.

Here are three typical scenarios where traditional billing systems hit the pain threshold.

1. There’s too much improvisation

Billing System PainOne way to know if your traditional billing system is failing is by looking at the amount of improvisation you have to perform to get it to even come close to doing what you need it to do.

Do you use a) Excel and a billing clerk who on a monthly basis enters new orders into the traditional system in order to trigger the right things to happen?  Or b) some sort of ticketing/workflow system that sends out reminders to people who then perform task(s)?

In both a and b, reminders tell people to do things such as manually charge a credit card, and if the card goes through, then manually process the order, then perform any order fulfillment requirements.

We’ve seen some very creative ways in which people try to essentially create their own recurring billing subscription management system. This usually happens when, (as many things do) the subscription project starts as a test, pilot project or a “let’s try this and see what happens” experiment.

No one wants to invest too much in systems when they don’t know if the test is going to result in something ongoing, so you make do with what’s around, and what’s around tends to be Excel, or Excel plus Quickbook,s or Excel plus a tracking management system.  But at some point there is so much improvisation and so many pieces to remember that it’s no longer sustainable.

2. There’s not enough security 

Security pain in billingA second way traditional billing systems fail is when it comes to security. Most often, this occurs when people try to build projects themselves.

There are two different types of build your own projects. The first is the quick and dirty development project where a database is hacked together to store credit cards and purchase orders.

The second is the long drawn out development project that while sometimes come to completion, never really ends, because as soon as you start developing, people discover just how entwined the billing system gets to be.

Both types of “build your own” often have security issues – risks that can be devastating to a business. Security and PCI compliance is a big issue, both in terms of the risk of loss of data on your customers’ behalf, risk of losing your customers trust (which usually results in the loss of their business. But once you’ve proven to have security issues you could lose the ability to process credit cards all together.

3. Revenue Leakage

Revenue leakage painRevenue leakage occurs when money is lost due to manual errors. For example, you’re shipping to customers who have stopped paying you or not shipping the right things to people who are still paying you.

Customers aren’t billed on time, credit card processed for the wrong amount, etc. all of these types of errors cost you money, and don’t provide you the visibility you need to run your business.

Whether that’s forecasting your requirements and inventory levels, or understanding which marketing programs are working and delivering good customers.

All three of these of these scenarios become barriers to scale. And what we most often hear from our customers when they talk to us about why they need a new billing system is that their billing system is getting in the way – that it’s become a barrier to growing the business. They’ve proven success, their idea or concept or subscription model, and now they need to get bigger and they need billing to be a key part of that.

Learn more about how an automated billing system like Fusebill can take away this pain. Join Fusebill CEO Steve Adams on March 13th for a live Product Demo!

usebill Webinar RegistrationProduct Demo: Fusebill Automated Billing and Payments Platform
When: March 13, 2:00 PM
Presenter: by Steve Adams
Cost: Free

Subscription billing stresses business processes and systems. The challenge of creating and delivering accurate bills, and securely collecting payments, can overwhelm billing teams as a business scales. Accounting teams are challenged with applying proper revenue recognition rules to subscriptions, and analyzing performance.

Keeping the wrong billing system means tightening the bottleneck around the whole business while moving to the right system means invoices are accurate and on-time, collections come in faster — and the bottom-line gets a huge cash-flow boost.

Hosted by CEO Steve Adams this fast-paced and interactive hour will give you an insider’s view of Fusebill’s market leading Billing and Payments platform, an overview of subscription commerce including best practices, and a live in-product demonstration.
REGISTER NOW!