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Billing Automation6 min read

How you can achieve hyper-growth with modern subscription billing

Billing automation in subscription businesses 


For subscription businesses, growth is the hallmark of success and hyper-growth is the ultimate objective. Your billing experience can be a key contributor to achieving that goal. In our last article, we looked at the technical aspects of the ideal billing platform for subscription businesses. In this article, we will focus on what a robust billing and revenue management system will enable you to do as a business, and how it will positively impact commercial outcomes ahead of competitors.



Customer experience is inextricably linked to billing

To recap, billing and customer experience are inextricably linked. If the system doesn't place customer experience front and center then it impacts the customer's overall perception of the brand, their loyalty, and their willingness to retain their subscription. As a result, billing and customer experience are not mutually exclusive and billing is about more than finance alone. 

Understanding that recurring billing and subscription management go hand in hand and that billing management can have far-reaching consequences across your revenue operations as a result of its impact on customer relationships, will make you consider the expectations of your billing platform differently. This link between billing and customer experience has to be fully understood to appreciate the desired outcomes of a user-centric billing system.



What should your recurring billing system allow you to do?

There are five key outcomes that a well-designed subscription system's recurring billing capacity should enable you to achieve if it is working properly:

  • Rapid speed to market 
  • Seamless billing and payment experiences
  • Quick pricing experiments 
  • On-the-go analytics
  • Easy integration with other software


Outperform competitors by going to market fast

In subscription businesses, perhaps more than any other commercial space, it's essential to stay ahead of competitors. It's a constant process of personal betterment as the market evolves and as you learn more about your customers and their preferences. The only way to compete is to be first to market with new ideas, which means having the capacity to execute ideas quickly, without loss of quality to the customer experience. From pricing updates to product releases, your billing system is an essential part of that process. 

It needs to have:

  • Price books that support diverse pricing models and currencies in different markets or entities.
  • Configurable rules to cover specific market requirements or regulations.
  • Great application programming interface (APIs) that allow businesses to easily connect or build user applications, bridging the user/customer frontend and billing backend seamlessly.
  • The flexibility to save time by automating the billing logic you design at the user, product, account or entity level.


Provide a seamless billing and payment experience

From the first moment, a customer starts to engage with your subscription business, you should be learning and guiding them through the customer journey toward making a successful purchase. 

This whole process needs to be considered as part of the billing and payment experience in order to make it as supportive and logical as possible for the customer. There is a fine balance to be achieved between the customer's sense of autonomy through self-service workflows, whilst also feeling supported in their choices through mechanisms like guided selling to help them find the best product or service solutions for them, quickly and easily. 

Ease is one of the key criteria for a great customer experience. Key factors in providing a seamless billing and payment experience include:

  • Providing a diverse range of payment options that fit each customer segment or market location.
  • Create a positive customer experience by letting customers manage their subscription and billing preferences through a convenient self-service workflow. 
  • Make sure customers have autonomy over the management of their subscriptions, enabling them to upgrade, downgrade, and interact easily.
  • User-centric APIs that allow a seamless connection between your billing and payments solutions.


Quick pricing experiments to master revenue leverage

Pricing is an emotive topic, and the more established your client base, the trickier it can be to get it right, especially when it comes to changes. Pricing can be a powerful and rewarding tool for improving your business success, your customer relationships, and, as a result, company growth. However, getting that pricing right so that it enhances your business and does not damage it, is essential. Getting it wrong can lead to a short-term loss of customers, but it can also cause damage to your brand as a whole. For example, The Harvard Business Review wrote:

"the manager must communicate to customers that prices have increased before the next billing cycle. This task is mined with pitfalls. When performed poorly, the news can lead to undesirable outcomes like customer complaints, social media outrage, and even worse, having to walk back the price increase, or losing customers altogether."

To avoid such eventualities, it's essential to have the data to understand your customers, their behaviors, their values, and their product usage–that way you can price strategically and communicate empathetically about any changes. It's important to test updates to ensure the success of new pricing rollouts. It's then vital that your billing system has the capacity to make systemic changes quickly across the organization with relevant market or regional adaptations. As your company grows, this automated precision seamlessness becomes even more important, as doing so manually is time-consuming and ripe for errors.

To achieve this, your billing system should allow you to:

  • Segment customers based on various attributes that may impact their willingness to pay
  • Identify the appropriate price points for developing pricing plans and models. 
  • Allow you to flexibly change and adapt your pricing with an elastic product catalog.


On-the-go analytics

As we have already alluded to, data and analytics are essential to the successful development of your business at all junctures. In particular, this applies to billing and your customer experience of the process. 

On-the-go analytics will give you a 360-degree view of your company's growth on a single dashboard, allowing you to keep constant track of customer behavior and the intersection between all aspects of billing and company success. 

Crucially, this knowledge will enable you to: 

  • Identify the root cause of churn.
  • Make informed decisions about what to do next.
  • Identify the next best revenue-maximizing opportunity.
  • Eliminate guesswork in your decision-making around pricing and billing.


A subscription billing and revenue management system that integrates with other software

A seamless customer experience out front is only possible if systems are working together behind the scenes. 

For that reason, when you're looking for your ideal subscription billing system, it's essential to find one that integrates easily with your existing software, such as payment solutions, CRM, and ERP. It's important that these systems work together so that errors do not occur and so that there isn't the need for constant manual interventions, which will become untenable as your subscription business grows. 

For the health of the business, your subscription billing engine needs:

  • A modern architecture that is API-first. 
  • A system that is able to work with the existing tech stack.



Is your subscription billing engine holding your business back?

In the early days of business development, it can be easy to overlook the importance of a robust subscription billing and revenue management system, leaning on manual workarounds which serve their purpose for a time. However, this quickly becomes cumbersome and limits your business's capacity for growth. 

Subscription businesses that do not have a fit-for-purpose billing and revenue management system will always be a step behind their competitors. In addition, they will be hindered by laborious manual processes and will miss opportunities that elude them without the right capacity, data, or methods for execution. At best, not having the right billing and revenue management system inhibits growth, at worst it damages the opportunities they have invested so much to create.

Conversely, the right subscription management platform can put you on the path to exponential growth. Once you have the right system in place for hyper-growth, it's time to scale–find out more about what it takes in our next article.




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