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SaaS companies have a unique role that places them at the center of their customers’ businesses, making the experience they provide crucial. For many, bringing the payments process in-house enables them to more fully realize their vision for that experience and more readily respond to the needs of their customers.

During a webinar recently hosted by our partner Infinicept, Adapting to Economic Changes: How SaaS Leaders Are Leveraging Payments to Grow, panelists from three successful software providers talked about defining their unique niche and how integrating payments into their business has helped them serve that niche and grow into strong, resilient businesses.

Infinicept Co-CEO and Co-Founder Todd Ablowitz hosted the webinar, which included insights from Celine Kaiser, vice president of payments for Modernizing Medicine; Matt Doka, co-founder and CTO of Fivestars; and David Giannetto, CEO of WorkWave.

When discussing how being a payment facilitator fit in to their overall business strategy, all three described how the ability to own the payments process gave them more control over customer service and support, as well as the experience they wanted to deliver for their customers.

For WorkWave, Giannetto said, the company was being hurt by problems that its field services customers were having with their payments processing provider.

“Our customers were going directly to the payment processor in order to get customer service and there was a lot of frustration.” Giannetto said.

“They were constantly asking us to solve their problems, and the truth was, we didn’t have any more leverage to get their problems solved than they had,” he continued.

The company ended up taking over the process of payments, which also enabled its customers to take payments with a variety of methods. Doing so revealed another benefit.

“By becoming a payfac and consolidating all of that billing,” he said, “we could actually offer much more competitive rates to our customer base.”

Modernizing Medicine was experiencing similar backlash for customer service issues that were out of their control.

“When someone has an issue with their payment processing, they call us first. They call the SaaS provider first and say, ‘hey, the software is not working,’” she said.

Becoming a PF helped the company gain control over those experiences for their healthcare provider customers.

“Now we can own the relationship, we can own the experience, and we just do it all ourselves,” she said.

In addition to improving customer service, doing it all themselves has meant a deeper ability for Modernizing Medicine to develop and customize the products they provide.

“We really looked at it from a customization standpoint, so that when we wanted to launch payment on the kiosk or payment on the web site, we had to do it once and not X times based on the number of payment providers we had to manage,” Kaiser said.

As a loyalty company providing services across a variety of retail verticals, Fivestars came to the payment facilitator model from a different perspective, realizing that controlling payments was integral to helping build the communities they wanted to build for their customers.

The company was looking for a way to simplify the way they established a consumer’s identity within their system and eventually settled on payment method. But the myriad of POS and hardware systems, along with an expansive network of payment providers, made it extremely difficult to standardize anything.

“When you’re serving small business, efficiency is key,” he said.

As the company continued down the road of using payment method to identify its customers, it realized that it had very specific hardware and software needs, as well as a desire to limit the companies involved to keep the sales process short, goals that could be met by becoming a payment facilitator.

For all three companies, owning the customer relationship and product experience has been an important factor in growing into successful, strong businesses.