Subscription businesses are a little bit like restaurants – most have dining areas and kitchens. What a company’s subscribers see and deal with – the customer experience – happens in the dining area. What they don’t see – quoting, ordering, contracting, invoicing, collections, renewals and more – is like what happens in the kitchen.
In the same way that a restaurant patron doesn’t really care about intricate chopping or laborious sauce preparation, a subscriber doesn’t care about PO numbers or bank transfers. As long as the meal tastes good, gets to the table reasonably quickly and is consistently good time after time, they’re happy. Oh, and the menu needs to change as well; but we’ll get to that in a minute.
I’m talking about subscribers as “they” because this is really an article for the chefs, the people for whom all those kitchen processes – what we often shorten to quote-to-revenue – is absolutely essential. They might be invisible, but they go a long way to making the dining room stuff memorable.
And just like in a kitchen, these processes can be automated or left in the hands of highly skilled people. They can be standardized or customized.
Recently, Zuora’s Subscribed Institute collaborated with McKinsey & Company to study 500 companies in this very area. Our research covered four years and we considered 50 different data attributes and fields. Among our many findings, one of the most interesting was that getting the balance right between automation and customization is crucial.