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Farewell to failed payments

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Last editedDec 20212 min read

Success+ from GoCardless uses machine learning to automatically identify and schedule the optimal time to retry failed payments – with double the average recovery rate.

Many merchants – too many, actually – consider failed payments a fact of life, a cost of doing business. With numbers like this, you have to wonder why that is:

  • Average recovery rates for failed payments are just 38%

  • 11-15% of the value of the payment is spent on recovery

  • 54% of businesses say that payment failures increase customer dissatisfaction*

So, recovering payments costs a lot and is inefficient. Generic and aggressive recovery processes often achieve little more than creating a poor customer experience. And all most merchants get in return, is revenue that’s written off as bad debt and involuntary churn.

For any merchants reading this, that isn’t what you got into business for, is it?

It’s poor outcomes like these that caught my eye as a product manager here at GoCardless.

Product managers exist to discover the most impactful problems we can solve for customers. So when I noticed thousands of customers using a Beta version of an automated, intelligent failed payment collection solution it really hit me: without any product promotion, people were relating. They were telling us that we have this problem and we're looking for a way to solve it.

Meet Success+, the intelligent payment recovery engine

Many, many iterations later (more than 250, actually) that Beta product is now Success+ from GoCardless.

Success+ uses GoCardless’ payment intelligence data and machine learning to help merchants manage and reduce failed payments. It does this thanks to intelligent retries (the first Success+ feature), which identifies when each customer is most likely to have funds in their account, and automatically retries payments on that day. And we have abstracted all that complexity to the point that the solution is packaged into a small, simple integration that enables merchants to easily plug it into their existing systems.

A decade (and counting) spent processing payments around the world means the intelligence found in Success+ can’t be replicated by any other solution on the market. We process millions of payments every single year, so we have the data about all of these payments and we can see the patterns. This is what makes up the intelligence that powers the product. It can figure out the optimal days to collect payments for each individual payer.

Remember those numbers from earlier? Now try these.

Average recovery rates with intelligent retries are 70% – that’s almost 2x the average without Success+. (GoCardless has a low payment failure rate to begin with, too – just 2.9%)**

Intelligent retries are more likely to succeed, so merchants recover a higher percentage of revenue and fewer of their failed payments escalate into bad debt or involuntary churn. And the benefits aren’t just financial. Success+ also saves merchants’ time and improves their customer relationships.

70% of Success+ users report improving customer relationships since they no longer have to chase late payments

As an automated recovery process, it reduces the time spent chasing failed payments by 64%***

In other words, Success+ allows merchants to save manual efforts as the last resort. By only chasing the customers whose payments can’t be automatically recovered, they have fewer awkward conversations that risk alienating customers for good.

While intelligent retries leverage GoCardless payment intelligence to identify and schedule the optimal retry timings, merchants retain control of the customer relationships, setting the number of retries and a time window that works for them. And they also benefit from increased visibility of their failure and recovery rates in the Success+ dashboard.

More revenue and more time to invest in whatever makes you, you

Success+ is just the next chapter in our quest to apply technology and machine learning to making business processes more intelligent and less painful, by automating anything that distracts merchants from the reasons they got into business in the first place. 

We support tens of thousands of businesses, of all shapes and sizes across the globe, to process subscription payments, invoices, one-off payments, and recurring payments. By freeing these customers from manually doing anything that’s non-value add – like chasing failed payments – we’re giving them back time that they can spend building their fantastic businesses, products and services.

*Source note: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of GoCardless, September 2020:

**Source note: GoCardless product data, 2021

***Source note: GoCardless customer survey, 2020