Build vs. Buy Guide

We work with companies of all sizes at Churn Buster. Generally speaking, there are two reasons that companies partner with us to manage failed payments:

eThey are a growing company struggling with failed payments for the first time.

eThey are using an underperforming system that is high cost and/or losing revenue.

A common question from development teams and technical founders: why not build this ourselves?

Truth is, some companies would be better off building in-house. Our technology is battle-tested and reliable at scale, but some solutions need more customization than we can affordably bring. Or, failed payments haven’t become a big enough pain point, or the idea of leaking revenue hasn’t become a real concern (more common in companies below $10k MRR).

Our goal is to use Churn Buster technology and team experience to leverage big long-term wins for companies that are a good fit. The value should always be far greater than the cost.

So let’s get right into it: when to build versus when to buy.

xWhen to Build In-House

In addition to having a passion for payment processing, and staying current with updates in Stripe documentation, you should build if ANY of the following are true:

1.) You have lots of free development cycles on your team.

Beyond web hooks.

To build an effective process, you need to do more than automate email sends based on Stripe web hooks. 20% of charges will clear just by retrying a payment, and won’t require an updated card. You should optimize for this, and avoid contacting customers who don’t need to take action. This results in more support requests and more cancelations. The bigger your company grows, the more critical this will be.

Card update page

You should not be requiring users to log in and navigate to a billing page to update their card. More than 50% of your subscribers are checking email on their phone, and this experience is a sure-fire way to leak payments. It’s not that customers don’t value your service—it’s that they give up on their phone, eventually get to a computer, and then forget to go back and update their card.

Link to a page outside your application that references their Stripe Customer ID, and confirm that their subscription status is back in the green.

Edge cases

You need to account for various edge cases that result in revenue churn. What if the Stripe API is temporarily down? Will an payment be initiated if a customer updates their card *after* a subscription has been marked as unpaid? How will you handle customers with multiple subscriptions? Customers with multiple customer IDs? etc.

Visibility

A decent system will track progress in real time. At a glance you’ll be able to know that everything is working as it should. And if you’ve grown to the point where you’re emailing a few thousand delinquent subscribers each month, you should have a reference point to start moving the needle towards optimization.

Maintenance

A basic system can be fun to build as a one-time project, but someone is going to need to keep the gears greased. Once the project is done, assign someone to watch for broken links, pages that aren’t responding, deliverability issues, updates in Stripe documentation, and assure quality performance over time.

Emergency handling

When you have tens of thousands of subscribers, you can’t afford to have your failed payment system crater behind the scenes. Without a system of error notification and prompt attention, it’s easy for weeks to go by without realizing payments are slipping through the cracks.

2.) You are scaling up a service team for personal outreach.

This is an expensive option that can work for companies with very high value subscriptions (over ~$1,000/mo). You’ll still want to automate a good chunk of the process, and supplement the rest with manual labor.

Follow up

Emails get missed, emails get ignored, emails get forgotten and hey, people go on vacation from time to time. You’ll need to have a system to keep following up to non-responders for several weeks.

Leave a message

With high value subscribers, you absolutely should be calling them for card updates. It’s rare for people to answer the phone from an unknown number these days. You’ll need a process for leaving voicemails and following up several times.

3.) You are wired up to more than one payment processor.

This isn’t always a deal killer, however at scale running multiple payment processors side-by-side can make for a much trickier setup.

4.) You have an unusual setup that requires a custom build.

Such as providing different experiences to different types of subscribers. Or a complex business model that necessitates a solution way outside of the box.

Incidentally, we’d be happy to quote you for a custom build to see if it is cost effective all around.


eWhen to Hire Churn Buster

If building isn’t an exciting prospect, here are some benefits to hiring Churn Buster:

An extended recovery funnel that exists independently of Stripe web hooks, emailing customers only when they need to be contacted.

Reliable email deliverability via an authenticated sender (DKIM/SPF records are available on request).

Minimal internal cost with a fully automated and visible process.

A dedicated card update page that doesn’t require a login, and is tested across hundreds of browser, device, and operating system combinations.

Real-time reporting.

Experts doing the work for you, applying best practices gained from working with many companies at large scale.

Access to technology that is always improving, instead of paying to revamp an underperforming system 12 months from now.

A team dedicated to solving all the edge cases that crop up, with built in fallbacks for Stripe downtime and other leaks.

Save the cost of manual work with a tool that helps make better use of your time. Escalate only the highest value customers, and intervene manually at your discretion.

With quick and easy setup you can get started in 30 minutes, not 30 days.

If you've made it this far and Churn Buster seems like a good fit, the benefits are going to far outweigh the cost.

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