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How to find productivity roadblocks in subscription business

Productivity is a hallmark of any agile business but for companies relying on recurring revenue models, there may be subscription management roadblocks.
Niclas Lilja
By Niclas Lilja on August 30, 2019

All businesses aim to run as effectively and efficiently as possible. That's the name of the game when trying to scale and stay competitive. But even when it comes to customer experience and product and service delivery, productivity is a non-negotiable aspect. When you have a feeling you could be running your subscription business better, how do you find the things that are preventing you from being your most productive? There are three main areas to look at:

How much of your business have you digitized?

Digitization is quickly becoming a crucial aspect of business management. For companies switching from traditional model to subscription or SaaS model, it can especially be a challenge to change all existing processes on top of changing the format of your actual product and service delivery.

But even for native software subscriptions, or other types of subscription services like telecom, delivery boxes, and more, digitization of all the important aspects of business is not a given. Take a look at your own business, and assess how much is still being done manually.

Most often, companies are lacking the integrations that are required for financial reporting for comparison against usage ratings, customer lifecycles, and other types of important data. The trick to productivity is to find where the gaps in communication live. If you are spending time doing manual revenue recognition, manual forecasting, and manual budgeting, you may be wasting valuable time. Seek solutions that can integrate all aspects of your unique business model together.

How much of your time goes to customer facing tasks?

For many subscription businesses, you either fall into two categories: a long-tail market in which your revenue is based on pure volume, where perhaps you have smaller offerings with a much larger pool of paying customers, or your subscriptions are higher value and more intensive, with fewer customers (maybe enterprise businesses).

In either case, you should be spending time on customer facing tasks. If all of your working hours are spent on spreadsheets and reports, you likely aren't making enough productive time for the activities that matter for gaining customers, and retaining them. So much of the subscription business today is about customer experience, and if you aren't prioritizing that, you may find yourself losing the game.

Productivity roadblocks in your subscription business can especially happen when you're too focused on revenue recognition, instead of focusing on the types of activities that actually contribute to your revenue. Have you considered loyalty programs and referral incentives? Do you send personalized messages to your enterprise customers ensuring their satisfaction and ease of use? Utilizing more of your time for these kinds of activities can see your churn rate decrease and customer lifetime value increase.

How are you handling your subscription lifecycle?

Both digitization and customer handling may contribute to how your systems handle the actual subscription lifecycle. But this can be crucial to how productive your business is, and your ability to catch opportunities, prevent churn, and run your business more smoothly.

Are you treating your subscription lifecycle as one stored contract on first agreement? Or does every change you make to a customer's subscription count as a new order? These two methodologies can cause problems for your productivity, as they don't fully support what a true customer lifecycle looks like.

Oftentimes in achieving productivity, it is flexibility that allows for true success. Especially in subscriptions, you need to leave room for your customers to make changes, upgrades, additions, and renewals, and you can see all these activities in one overview.

Your subscription lifecycle handling should have a fully versioned audit trail so that you can easily see patterns in subscription lifecycles, make predictions about churn, and service each customer backed with the information regarding their entire journey with you. This can save you valuable time as opposed to having to sift through history and old reports in order to have reference points that you may need regarding previous usage data or billing.

Being productive in business, especially in subscription models, can be easier said than done. But the first step in addressing a problem is admitting you have one, and identifying the areas of business where you can be making improvements. To find your productivity roadblocks, look at what you aren't digitizing that should be, how much of your activities are actually contributing to customer satisfaction, and how you are handling your subscription lifecycle, as a place to start.

Want a quick way to see if your subscription management passes the productivity test? Try our calculator now to see how you're doing.

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Published by Niclas Lilja August 30, 2019
Niclas Lilja

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