Subscription-based businesses have exploded in popularity in recent years due to the changing nature of consumer behaviours and eCommerce growth. Traditional industries have been completely reimagined to serve customers on a month-to-month basis, increasing the importance of delivering ongoing, valuable experiences to customers over making a quick sale. But it isn’t easy to get a subscription model right, which is why some businesses outshine their competitors. This post explores how CX differs for subscription-based businesses and the keys to excellent service in the subscription economy.
Understanding the Subscription Economy
The subscription economy is shaking up every industry you can think of. Gartner found that 70% of organisations have deployed or are considering the deployment of subscription services. In theory, it’s a great business model – offering long term, reliable revenue streams and stronger customer relationships. But these relationships can be challenging to maintain as they must be continuously nurtured. Rather than focusing on making new sales, resources must lean towards maintaining relationships with existing subscribers. Competitors in the subscription arena are abounding, giving customers a sometimes overwhelming selection of options to choose from, so delivering flawless service is essential to success for a business offering a subscription model.
Regardless of the industry, the key differentiating factors between subscription services is how they deliver valuable customer experiences that are regularly improving or evolving. If a customer isn’t finding recurring value from their subscription, they will have no trouble cancelling and switching to a competitor who will entice them with a new perk or offer. It doesn’t matter if the subscription is for a streaming service, meal kit deliveries, floral arrangements, fitness apps, or SaaS platforms for businesses – CX is ultimately what will make or break a customer’s willingness to continue a subscription (after a trial and beyond).
3 Key Characteristics of Great CX
Netflix and Spotify would be prime examples of subscription-based services that have personalised the customer experience in its entirety. No two customers will receive the same recommendations because their algorithms are determined by past behaviours rather than generalised demographic profiles. This level of personalisation doesn’t make sense for every business, but it has influenced customer expectations. Offering new suggestions or perks based on actionable consumer analytics is an added benefit expected in B2C subscriptions.
Furthermore, there needs to be some sort of element of choice in the process to strengthen the relationship with the customer. Allowing customers to choose a plan that suits their needs, lifestyle and preferences (a family plan, a student plan, a vegan plan, etc.), and the option to bundle different plans if relevant, can be paramount to getting a customer to choose your subscription over that of a competitor and to stick with you.
Low Effort & Convenience
For customers, the beauty of a subscription is that they don’t have to make much effort, if any, to receive a good or service. There is usually also the added benefit of flexibility depending on the plan they would like. With subscription-based services, customers have particularly high expectations and expect frictionless experiences. It is important to have some sort of customer “hub” where they can access their account details, make changes to their plan, and view their purchase history in one place without getting in touch with customer service. It is oftentimes crucial to customers that they can easily pause or cancel their subscription here if they have a change of circumstances or are no longer interested. Making this process at all difficult will dissuade customers from coming back or recommending your business to others.
Automation & Integration
In the subscription economy, it is imperative that there are no siloes across the business and that there is a unified, integrated infrastructure in place to connect the front and back offices. Subscription-based businesses succeed when they have a holistic view of the customer for creating frictionless CX and analysing the end-to-end customer journey. The customer’s experience should be entirely streamlined across sales, support, and marketing. No channel should be considered individually, and service representatives should be able to access all information and data on a customer to help them easily. With the right integrations between software services, you should be able to comprehensively follow your customers’ digital trail and provide them with a better experience based on their history. This will allow you to automate processes so customers can do business with you more efficiently with various degrees of personalised service.