The Anatomy of Subscription Businesses | Part six
ver the last few weeks we have looked at the challenges and opportunities presented to different industry sectors by subscription models.
From how they’re inextricably linked to the Internet of Things, to manufacturing, energy as a service (EaaS), as well as health and fitness, we have explored the commonalities as well as the specific nuances and needs of the customer experience in each sector.
From this, we can deduce three things:
- Subscription models are the way of the future, and with the right thinking just about all organizations can transform in order to benefit from the subscription business model.
- Those who are adapting and expanding into subscription business models are doing so to ensure the sustainability and relevance of the company for the long term.
- The legacy way of thinking - that you can make the business fit existing systems, rather than customizing systems to fit the business - is a one-track journey towards overspending, underserving customers, and ultimately not meeting business objectives. As we at keylight put it - it’s the “failed path of one shoe for every journey”.
In this article, we round up this series informed by our experience from working with these industries, concluding the challenges of transformation to a subscription-based business model as well as the solutions.
On the path to a subscription-based business
When we consider all the different industries we have explored in this series, we can see that for each one the customer journey is totally different.
When we take a user-centric approach, this simultaneously becomes the challenge and the great strength of an organization. In a world of industry disruptors, your customer experience is something that cannot be replicated by a competitor.
It’s an essential part of your brand value, which is one of the reasons creating it with careful intent is essential.
That’s why, at keylight, we fit the system to the business model, while other companies try to fit the business model to the system.
Transitioning to a new way of operating is both laborious and risky, especially for an established company where business is currently ticking along with no major problems.
For a start-up or scale-up, the choice to pursue a subscription-based business model might be more obvious. However, for those transitioning, it’s about increasing the sustainability of the business, creating new revenue streams, and anticipating the not-so-distant future of customer wants needs and expectations.
A business model transition is a cross-team and cross-departmental effort, requiring a shift in mindset as well as a shift in operations.
The traditional business mindset focuses on one-off sales - getting the customer on board in the first place. The subscription mindset needs to focus on how to retain a customer for the long-term, which means considering every customer touchpoint and how it impacts the customer relationship.
What can happen if a business cleaves to a legacy mindset is they seek to cut corners. For example, they focus on automation at the expense of the customer experience. While automation may be a facet of a digital business, so is personalization. Finding a balance between these two aspects, while still being able to oversee the entire operations is a significant, but not insurmountable, challenge.
The systems involved in a subscription business are built with different focuses from traditional e-commerce platforms. Often businesses will try to adapt within the confines of existing operations:
- They try to adopt platforms that were not made for subscription models, meaning they are not created with scalability in mind. To scale effortlessly for long-term success, businesses need a system that can automate recurring operations with flexibility, and make smart decisions for users.
- They fail to place the customer experience at the heart of system and business development, meaning they don’t create an end-to-end process from initial sale to billing and customer insights. The customer does not experience a personalized approach because legacy systems do not allow subscription businesses to apply an appropriate number of options to meet customer needs.
- They fail to adapt and differentiate between industries and try to squeeze their monotone billing engines into one subscription business model.
As a result of these actions, businesses can be adversely affected, ultimately spending more time and money trying to crowbar actions into reluctant systems resulting in puzzling siloed solutions using clunky workarounds.
This negatively impacts the customer experience, meaning that they either don’t get the service that they want or it’s over-complicated to reach the end result. As a result, it leads to a high turnover of customers, which defeats the point of a subscription-based business model.
Achieve a successful transition to a subscription-based business
The solution to these challenges is to recognize that not every subscription model is the same, and therefore cannot use exactly the same approach, or merely tweak what they have been using in the past. Customization is the key.
Modern businesses require modern subscription-native technology that covers the following from day one:
- User experience for customer journeys and internal teams
- Automation for complex recurring processes
- Predictive analytics for customer insights
To provide business-specific value propositions and experiences to customers, the subscription system behind the scenes needs to have a unified model as its backbone, but one that allows for the unique customer journeys of different industries.
keylight adapts to an as-a-service business model and not the other way around. We provide one unified, end-to-end platform for teams to seamlessly collaborate with one another and interact with customers effortlessly.
We have established that traditional systems cannot be easily customized to meet the requirements of each different consumer journey, both from one industry to another and within an individual organization.
keylight’s applications are tailor-built for different user groups and business requirements. All customer journeys and sales channels are:
- Connected to the same platform
- Provide real-time collaboration across channels
- Deliver seamless central administration
As a result, the benefits are:
- We unchain businesses from traditional system roadblocks
- Enable true subscription success with scalability by putting people first and automating all recurring operations around them.
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