Subscriptions Almost Guarantee Repeat Business
Your business can learn (to earn) a lot from subscription services, such as Netflix and Tidal. These services are transforming the way companies earn money and ensuring that consumers receive their products and services in perpetuity. More businesses are choosing this method of billing and shipping because it almost guarantees repeat business and it’s completely automated, which saves money on staffing costs and more.
Managing Subscriptions and Recurring Bills
Subscriptions work like this: basically, customers sign up for goods or service deliveries online via your website. This can also be done over the phone, but that requires a greater financial investment because you’ll need to hire a dedicated salesforce. Keep in mind, anything can be sold on a recurring basis, not just television and music streaming services. Goods, such as groceries and clothing items, can also be sold on a recurring basis. Customers finalize their order by entering their billing information, and they’re automatically billed on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.).
This process isn’t complicated when you take advantage of subscription billing software, which operates on the cloud and is nearly infallible. The software requires little IT knowledge to set up and creates a self-service sales portal on your website. It even comes with all those small idiosyncrasies that drive sales, such as free plans, free trials, cancellation buttons and more. Fulfillment software simplifies the process for you and the consumer, which means any business can harness the money-making power of recurring billing without too much technical experience.
Step One: Determine Your Pricing Plan
There isn’t a single pricing plan that’s guaranteed to drive sales. You’ll need to do your best to create a pricing plan that’s profitable to you, but also fair to your customers. You’ll need to consider your costs, the value to your customer, and your customer’s needs. It may take some trial-and-error before you find a pricing plan that works.
Here are some ideas to help you get sign-ups fast, so you can build revenue quickly:
- Offer a free plan or a free trial
- Offer a coupon or incentive for upgrading
- Considering offering different pricing plans for different levels of service
- Guarantee that payments are secure and offer a few methods for paying (credit card, Paypal, etc.)
Step Two: Make it Easy to Cancel
Customers don’t want to feel scammed or cheated, but that’s exactly how they will feel if you’re lacking a return policy or easy cancellation. Those customers will report you to the Better Business Bureau and leave negative reviews about your business, which has the potential to ruin your reputation. The last thing you need is negative reviews showing up in search results for your company, so keep a strong commitment to customer service.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to retain customers who are considering cancellation, but you shouldn’t thwart them either. You are welcome to offer customers incentives to retain them, but if they choose to cancel that’s their prerogative and you must honor that. You can show you’re committed to customer satisfaction by making it easy to cancel or return products.
Step Three: Engage with Customers to Increase Satisfaction
According to a 2011 American Express survey, 78 percent of consumers have abandoned a transaction or canceled an intended purchase due to poor customer service. This unhappy customer’s negative experience can have a negative impact on your business. In fact, Ruby Newell-Legner, author of Understanding Customers, reports that “It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.”
Good customer service goes a long way in retaining customers and soliciting positive reviews. A negative review isn’t the end of the world, but it is more impactful than a positive review; therefore, it’s essential to provide quality customer service to ensure the good reviews outnumber the bad ones. Here’s some tips for providing quality customer service:
- Show empathy
- Be adaptable
- Communicate clearly
- Train your staff to be knowledgeable
- And, remember: the customer is always right
Recurring billing can be extremely profitable, and it only requires a few steps to get off the ground. The most important thing is that you understand your target market, and do your best to provide them with exemplary service. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.” The only way to ensure loyalty is to give loyalty right back.