In my two previous blog posts, I covered lessons learned on our journey to GHX ePay implementation, and steps we took to gain executive support for the transition. In this post, I’ll cover another challenge that we successfully overcame – securing customer buy-in for the switch from manual credit card payments to automated electronic payments.
While the program has been a great success – we’ve cut our payment processing fees by 94 percent – it was not a flip of the switch. When we began implementation in March 2017, our goal was to put a hard stop on credit card payments by August 31, 2017. Within that time five-month period, we wanted to educate customers on why we were implementing electronic payments and how the solution works. Most importantly, we wanted our customers to have time to get used to the idea, and be able work out any kinks we might encounter as we rolled out the program.
Here are four steps that we took in transitioning our customers from credit cards to ePay.
Step One: Introduction to ePay
Starting in March 2017, we worked to communicate with customers on the ePay program and the timeline for implementation. Communication methods included:
Naturally we had some push back, customers didn’t understand why we would no longer take credit card payments. We pointed to the significant expense that we incurred from processing fees - $1.4M annually – and how we had to cut costs for our company, just as our customers have to cut costs for their own organizations. We also described the efficiencies both CryoLife and its customers would gain as a result of the switch from manual to automated payments.
Step Two: Targeting current ePay users
GHX took our list of customers and matched it up against current ePay users. We found there were a number of customers paying us by credit card that were using ePay to pay other suppliers. Those were the low hanging fruit. Because they were familiar with the ePay program and already using it then it was easy for them to switch. The GHX team helped us reach out to them and facilitate the transition.
Step Three: The heavy hitters
Next we looked at those customers paying us over $300k annually through credit cards. It was quite a large group of healthcare organizations. Our collections specialist called each of these customers directly to discuss the transition to ePay, and followed up with emails to them. For all other customers we continued communication via letters and emails in an attempt to convert them to ePay ahead of the August 31 deadline.
Step Four: The hard stop
While our plan specified that as of August 31, 2017, we would no longer accept credit card payments, we had to make a few exceptions. For example, it would have been a huge burden for some of our larger customers to go back and reissue payments made via credit card, so we gave them some extra time to convert to ePay.
Naturally there were customers still attempting to pay us by credit card after the deadline claiming they had not received our communication alerting them to the change. When our collections specialist received a credit card payment from one of these customers, they took the opportunity to educate them about the ePay program and told them they had to pay via this method moving forward.
Our current state
The transition to the GHX ePay program has saved our company a significant amount of money and greatly improved our operational efficiency. We currently have only two customer groups still making credit card payments, and are confident that one will soon be transitioned to ePay. I’m proud of what my team and CryoLife was able to accomplish and that our executive team had enough faith and confidence in us to let us go through with this project.
For more information on CryoLife’s journey through the successful adoption of the ePay solution, watch this recorded webinar where Susan Fletcher provides detailed insights into what prompted them to make a change and where they are today as a result.