Teamwork and the Importance of Clean Data to Do Recurring Billing Right

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At Fusebill, Senior Implementation Manager Jenn Proulx works on the frontlines — onboarding business on Fusebill's  advanced subscription management and recurring billing platform. Through her time here, one of the most valuable lessons she has learned is how her coworkers band together to overcome obstacles and empower businesses to grow by increasing their subscriber base.

Prior to this position, Jenn spent eight years as a change management consultant. In the call center world, she felt stagnant and was ready to make some changes in her career path. When she saw an opening with Fusebill, she knew this was the challenge she wanted. “It was really serendipitous,” she said. “After my interview, I had such a good feeling.”

That good feeling sticks with her each day that she encounters challenges with onboarding clients. One of the principal challenges, she said, is that clients often come to the table with preconceived notions about how the process is going to work. “They might be coming from a different system, so they have already worked through the process one way.”

One thing Jenn makes a priority is to develop a rapport with her contacts in an onboarding business so they build a sense of mutual trust with each other. “We need to consult with customers on how things work, and how changes are implemented,” she said. “It’s how we shepherd them through the process.”

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The importance of clean data in the recurring billing world

The process can be quite extensive, because the businesses need to first scrub their data before it goes into the Fusebill platform. Sometimes this can be simple, but often, there are a lot of holes in the data.

For instance, she said, there can be incorrect billing addresses. Even though the Fusebill recurring billing system is virtually paperless, it’s important to have updated addresses for tax purposes. Also, there may be people who left the company that are still in the system. Those names should be removed so they are not transferred to the new platform.

Often, Jenn explained, when a business has previously worked with a different system, they only add information to a customer’s profile instead of updating and deleting the outdated information. Consequently, when the data is being prepared to import into Fusebill’s system, there can be 10 records for the same customer.

Which one should be used? What records need to be deleted from the file?

Taking the time to scrub the data beforehand ensures that there is one source of truth for the subscriber. Often, businesses present what they feel is relatively clean customer data, so it can be frustrating when they realize that there is still a lot of work to be done.

However, once they realize how critical the data is to be cleaned up, their resistance goes down. 

Jenn noted one such business in the telecommunications sector who, after realizing the importance of clean data, took a good look at the information they had. In the end, they hired three data entry people for a full month to clean up their files.

“Once the business gets the clean data to us,” she said, “we have them up and running in no time at all.”

Ignite Growth with BillingOne of Jenn's Office Doodles

Every business has a unique need and communication level

Because the Fusebill recurring billing platform can easily adapt to such a diverse group of clients, each with their own needs and wants, every relationship is different. Even though Jenn can be on-boarding 15 or more different businesses at a time, she adapts her disposition to best complement each person she works with.

It was a strategy she developed growing up with a family that moved every two years or so. “My father was an auditor for Imperial Parking. If something wasn’t working well with a location, he was called in to fix it. Consequently, we moved a lot.”

With all the different schools and new friends she made, Jenn had to learn how to blend and adapt her personality. It’s a skill she utilizes daily, particularly when she can work with as many as 4 or 5 business clients in a day, all in different stages of onboarding. And those businesses represent many different sectors. Jenn has worked with SaaS organizations as well as companies from the healthcare space, the professional/educational accreditation space, and insurance companies.

Smaller clients also benefit from Fusebill’s platform. For example, Jenn helped to onboard a PC repair technician who wanted to bill customers on a recurring basis. Regardless of the client’s field of expertise, the approach is the same as she worked with them to clean their data in preparation for merging that information with the Fusebill system.

She doesn’t do it alone, though. Every day, she checks in with her teammates to hammer out any technical issues. “There is so much to know so I sometimes forget what I know,” she joked. “Based on certain circumstances, I am often consulting with different teammates to make a problem work.”

When it takes a village to debug a file for better billing

Jenn recalled one time when the team dynamic really made a difference for her. There was a particular day when a Hackathon was scheduled. Because it was an ‘all hands on deck’ event to collaborate and strategize with the Fusebill group as a whole, everyone was instructed to clear their calendars well in advance and for that day, focus their efforts on the Hackathon versus their usual daily duties.

Unless there was an emergency, of course.

Jenn got a call, one that would supersede the Hackathon as an emergency. “I had a customer call me in dire straits,” she said. “They needed their import to be done that day. I sat down and started working on their problem.”

The business was encountering errors with their import and Jenn was focused on trying to navigate around the issues. She talked to Donna McPhee, Senior Sales Engineer, who determined that it there was a problem with the import tool. Working to fix the errors that were popping up, she suddenly realized someone else had pulled up a chair next to her to see what was going on. “It was a member of the development team,” she said. “Without my asking for help, he sat down and started looking at the file I was working on.”

The developer shook his head when Jenn asked if she was missing something. “No,” he said, “there is definitely something wrong.” The next thing she knew, another developer sat down and started working on the file. Together they found all the incredibly rare bugs and worked together to fix the file.

By that point, Jenn had been at it for hours, and would likely have been trying to find the errors for countless more hours. But, with teamwork, it only took another hour to solve the problems.

The Fusebill platform is so flexible and so configurable that when there are issues, the team bands together to think through the possibilities. “We would be nothing here without the amazing team we have,” Jenn said. “It’s astounding.”

Jenn may be working at ‘ground zero’ of data cleaning, but the ripple effects of this process impact people in unexpected ways. “When clients typically start the onboarding process, they’re in what I like to call ‘spreadsheet hell,’” Jenn said.

“Typically their accountants/billing clerks have very little opportunity to take any time away as the billing for the whole company lies on their shoulders. Sometimes they’ve had to take their laptop on vacation but most of the time they haven’t taken a vacation in quite a while. I always joke that my goal in getting them onboarded is for their billing clerk to be able to take a vacation.

“We stay with our customers through their first billing run. After the stabilization period and the first billing run for one particular business, the billing clerk told me that she had such faith in what we built together that she had booked her first vacation in 3 years.”

These are the moments that Jenn knows the time she put into working with that business, and educating contacts on the need to scrub their data, has come full circle.

As these businesses move forward with Fusebill, they successfully leverage the power and enjoy the growth benefits of a robust subscription management and recurring billing technology. With a little help from the Fusebill team.

Jenn-Justine-recurring-billingJenn (R) and colleague Justine

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Tags: fusebill culture subscription management Recurring Billing accounting

Mariah Patterson

Mariah Patterson is a former journalist with diverse writing interests. Enjoying fiction and nonfiction alike, she has published a children’s book and will be publishing her first novel later this year. Mariah lives in Maine and captures her family’s exploits in her blog.

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