March 3, 2020 | Authored by: Kevin Cancilla
7 ways to cultivate an amazing subscriber experience
There are several factors that contribute to success in the subscription industry. As more businesses adopt the subscription business model as a whole or by diversifying their offerings, these companies are discovering that the subscriber experience is as important as the product or service.
While product popularity, market fit, and competitive pricing definitely matter, the modern consumer is increasingly focused on the personalized, experiential elements of the relationship, rather than just the transaction.
There are higher expectations than ever for subscription-based businesses to deliver a personalized, valuable experience — and if you don't, some other business in the market will. This means you need to focus on crafting a high-quality customer experience throughout every stage of the subscriber lifecycle.
Here are 7 ways to cultivate an amazing subscriber experience:
1. Solicit customer feedback
There's no better place to start than directly asking the customer what they like. The customer is the single-best authority and source of insight on personal preferences, and so subscription services should make every effort to collect feedback when possible.
This feedback can be gathered in many different ways. But it shouldn't only be about asking questions, but engaging the subscriber at key touchpoints. You may want to send new subscribers a survey form at the three-month mark to get their opinions on what they like and think could be improved. The third month is a crucial stage for churn, and engaging the subscriber with direct communication can make them feel heard, as well as lead to insight on how to improve the experience. Also consider using app ratings, reviews, focus groups, and testimonials as a way to identify and meet expectations, or solve pain points.
2. Reward loyalty
Customers expect more than ever in return for spending. Witness the normalization of free two-day shipping in eCommerce, when once customers wouldn't complain if a package took five to seven days. For subscription services, this translates to membership perks or a loyalty program. These incentives can be used to enhance and differentiate the customer experience, winning the trust and business of customers.
It's important to look beyond acquisition when improving the customer experience. Loyalty programs help retention and combat churn while engaging subscribers across the customer lifetime. Benefits may come in the form of regular discounts, membership perks with partners, or money off when upgrading.
3. Analyze the data
These days, consumers not only expect a fair trade for their dollars but also their data. Businesses collect more information than ever, and customers in turn expect that intel to be used to personalize and enhance their experience. For example, recommendations for OTT entertainment streaming services have become a standard place.
As customers continually demand more intelligent recommendations and personalization, companies can mine data for insights and patterns that reveal those opportunities for personalization. Purchase histories, usage trends, transaction data, and customer service communications can all help inform a better experience.
4. Deliver frictionless billing
Billing factors heavily into the subscriber experience. When you're billing a customer 12 times a year, a single hiccup in one payment could lead to a negative experience – and potential churn. This can be complicated, for instance, when subscribers transition from introductory tree trials or when discounts are applied to a purchase.
A robust subscription billing solution is the best way for companies to pursue faultless billing and a high-quality subscriber experience. Any friction points in billing could lead to churn. To prevent a negative experience and lost revenue, do the research on which payment options to offer and the best practices for retrying failed payments.
5. Institutionalize customer success
Customer success needs to be treated like a department. That means it requires internal resources and attention; if you don't already have an official customer success team, it may be time to think about creating one. At a basic level, customer success needs to be woven into the culture of a subscription business and permeate its mission and values.
Customer success is not only focused on cultivating a strong experience, but also driving bottom-line performance. When companies analyze customer data, for example, they can use the insights to identify ideal up-sell and cross-sell opportunities that resonate on the customer's end. Customer success fuels a virtuous cycle across the subscriber lifecycle by fulfilling core customer expectations for engagement, service, and experience.
6. Offer self-service options
When possible, give customers the controls to shape their own experience. Account self-service options and other access points can be used to make the customer feel included, and thus contribute to fostering a positive experience. Subscribers should be able to easily and intuitively manage their accounts, billing preferences, and other settings without having to jump through a series of digital hoops.
An important subject to broach here is a cancellation. Making cancellations easy might seem to go against every instinct a subscription company has, but it's vital to the experience that cancellations are painless. A multistep or overwrought process will leave customers with a negative impression — which at the point of cancellation is a lasting one. Requiring that digital customers call a physical phone line to cancel, for instance, can be significantly damaging to the brand — as well as illegal in some cases. Difficult cancellations will reduce the chances of customers ever sign back up or recommend the service to family or friends.
7. Be responsive and proactive
In the end, there is perhaps nothing more influential of the subscriber experience than the quality of customer service you provide. The two have the same trajectory: Poor customer service will lead to a negative customer experience, while helpful interactions will promote a positive experience.
Being responsive and proactive should be the guiding principles of your customer service. The quicker a resolution is reached, the better for all parties. But even if that resolution takes time, don't let the communications lapse. Keep subscribers updated and appraised of the situation by communicating through multiple channels.
Deliver an amazing experience with faultless billing
It takes a far-reaching effort to deliver strong, amazing customer experiences across every stage of the subscriber lifecycle. Personalization is the currency of the subscription landscape, and your service needs to meet expectations for such an experience.
One way to support that objective is through customer-focused and frictionless subscription billing and management. Protecting your recurring revenue and supporting a strong experience go hand in hand. Want to learn more about how we can help you create amazing customer experiences? Contact Vindicia today.
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