The primary responsibility of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is to ensure that various financial business processes such as billing and payment procedures are working smoothly. However, with exponential advancements in digital technology and infrastructure, traditional billing procedures can often be time-consuming, impractical, and tedious.
With substantial changes in our current business landscape in recent years, most modern businesses have shifted towards subscription-based recurring billing and operational models. Recent studies have shown that the global subscription billing management industry is forecasted to reach a market value of approximately $10,772.14 million by the year 2025, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.02%.
Furthermore, as more and more businesses shift towards subscription billing systems, the wide variety of benefits of subscription models have become increasingly apparent. Therefore, CFOs must understand the numerous benefits of subscription billing as well as the potential challenges associated with implementing recurring subscription billing processes and how to overcome them.
What Is Subscription Billing?
Subscription billing is defined as the implementation and execution of automated recurring billing processes and consumer payments. Therefore, customers are automatically billed and charged at regular time intervals for your business’s products and services with the option to cancel at any given point in time.
Therefore, instead of executing individual transactions each month, customers can simply choose their preferred payment method, and the specified amount will be automatically transferred at the agreed-upon date.
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Benefits of Subscription Billing:
1. Reduced Risk and Human Error
Since subscription billing systems only require customers to enter their personal financial information at the beginning of their subscription instead of being entered continuously, there is significantly less manual data entry. Therefore, this not only reduces the risk of human error associated with manual data entry methods but can also drastically reduce the risk of financial vulnerability as sensitive financial consumer data does not need to be entered at regular time intervals.
2. Stabilized Organizational Revenue
With subscription billing models, consumers are anticipated to automatically make payments to your business at the same time each month. Although consumers can usually withdraw from subscription billing systems at their own will, these models can often enable your business to predict short-term organizational revenue to a certain extent.
Therefore, this will not only help make your job as a CFO much easier as you will be able to predict short-term financial performance but will also enable your business to forecast financial and human resource requirements.
3. Increased Customer Retention Rates
The convenience of subscription billing models can often encourage customers to utilize your business’s products and services for longer periods of time. This can help customers understand the value that your business can provide over time and hence significantly improve customer retention rates.
Everything You Need To Know About Subscription Billing:
1. Billing Automation
Although subscription billing models may be able to make overall organizational transactions much easier than ever before, as your business continues to grow in terms of scale and complexity, your business should begin to implement recurring billing automation wherever possible. Managing subscription-based recurring billing models manually can be extremely time-consuming and may even lead to significant human errors that can drastically affect long-term organizational profitability.
Billing automation can help your business implement and manage a wide variety of subscription factors, such as handling customers from different geographical regions and tax criteria, evolving subscription renewal terms, varying currency exchange rates, renewal discounts, and much more. According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey, 45% of work activities can be automated using existing technology.
Furthermore, automation can help ensure that every aspect of subscription accounting, such as quotations, invoices, renewals, collection procedures, and regulatory compliance, can be made more efficient and error-free.
2. Flexibility Can Provide Competitive Advantage
With today’s volatile and constantly evolving business landscape, customers now have more options to choose from than ever before. Therefore, although subscription billing can be an excellent way to predict and forecast long-term potential organizational revenue, your business must also prioritize providing customers with flexibility in terms of purchasing and usage options.
Therefore, your business should prioritize providing customers with as many subscription package options, usage options, pay-per-use features, and renewal payment options as possible. This will not only help increase customer satisfaction and encourage higher renewal rates but can also help your organization gain a significant competitive advantage over other similar businesses.
3. Adjustable Scalability Is Key
As a CFO, you may be tempted to scale up organizational operations and consequent profitability as much as possible. However, since most businesses experience seasonal or varying periods of demand, your SaaS billing software should enable your business to adjust capacity and offerings with changes in demand.
Furthermore, as your business grows over time, you may have difficulty allocating scarce financial and human resources to the growing operations. Therefore, your subscription billing strategies and systems should be equipped to facilitate as much business process automation as possible in terms of recurring billing and renewal procedures.
4. Collect Real-Time Insights and Data Metrics
Tracking and recording performance insights using one-time purchases can often be straightforward. However, subscription billing processes may make collecting real-time insights and valuable data metrics more complex.
Therefore, if your business chooses to implement subscription billing into consumer transaction processes, it is crucial to measure metrics such as subscription renewal rates, monthly and annual recurring organizational revenue, conversion rates, and much more. These metrics and valuable insights will not only help predict future long-term financial performance but will also help facilitate effective decision-making processes.
Implement Subscription Billing In Your Business:
As a CFO, one of your primary goals is to attempt to predict and increase business value. As consumer expectations continue to shift towards automation and convenience, subscription billing can be an extremely convenient way to forecast long-term organizational revenue and significantly improve customer acquisition rates.22
However, several challenges associated with subscription billing could potentially negate the wide variety of benefits of subscription-based operational models. Therefore, the aforementioned step-by-step guide can help CFOs understand everything they need to know to leverage subscription billing strategies to optimize business operations.
Stanley Deepak is an accomplished sales and marketing professional with 15+ years of experience. He loves tech products and book reading. He writes on philosophy and culture on LinkedIn.
Published June 16, 2022, Updated June 16, 2022