Are subscription services changing the way we treat customers?
In our previous blog post, we looked at how subscription business models provide a regular incoming cash flow for businesses. This time we explore how subscription services have the potential for creating fruitful customer relationships by providing personalised unique services and products.
Interestingly, this business model dates back to the 17th century when authors regularly sold atlases, geography, history and literature books. In the last two decades, this model has thrived thanks to the innovations and solutions made possible by the Internet and mobile apps. Consumers now have a wide array of subscription services to choose from, ranging from music and film through to software solutions, to food and clothes.
Uniqueness and differentiation
Subscription services are not only competing with traditional businesses, but also with the multitude of choice for subscriptions out there. This is where uniqueness and differentiation come in.
A subscription business model usually has to have unique features. Whether it is music, food, flowers or clothes, the most effective services offer the customer the ability to discover new products or avoid the regular trip to the shops. If it is an IT solution, then the business usually differentiates itself by eliminating the need to install complicated and expensive software or hardware.
The uniqueness of the service has to be marketed with strong emphasis!
Customer service and relationship building is where subscription services have to excel. This relationship between the provider and the customer is constantly evolving and developing, and does not end when the product reaches the subscriber’s hands. Flexible and dynamic functionality are key. And so is personalisation, especially for the tailored-product services.
The customer is not only in the centre of the whole relationship, but also in the whole business. Subscription economies “live and die by their ability to focus on the customer”. This is because for most innovative subscription services, the product they deliver is personalised and it is something that the customer can identify with. This relationship is fluid also because the service needs to keep improving over time. The customer wants to be positively surprised – whether it is an improvement, a new feature in the service or a new product.
If customers don’t get this special treatment and they don’t see service improvement and personalisation, they will most likely unsubscribe after a short time. The old saying that “the customer is always right” could not be more suitable.