Subscription Business

4 Best Practices for IoT Subscription Management

Tyler Pranke | July 12, 2022

Subscription management begins the moment you sign a customer. It ends—hopefully, a long time in the future—when they close out their account. Do it well and you and you can reduce churn improve customer service and reduce churn. Do it poorly and…well. You don’t want to do it poorly.

Subscription management always has the potential to get complicated, but never more so than when you throw physical products into the mix, as in the case of telematics and other IoT businesses.

IoT and telematics companies need to be able to:

  • accurately invoice their customers on a consistent schedule,
  • employ usage-based billing where it is needed, and
  • access data across multiple platforms in a manner that is clean and efficient.

Good subscription management software makes these processes easier, improving your telematics business’s agility while treating the customer to a better experience.

Here’s how.

1. Subscription management software should integrate with your tech stack

Tech stack integrations allow businesses to use their tools seamlessly across departments. Integrations keep data clean, increase accessibility, and generally improve the user experience so that the tech can do what it is meant to: make things run more efficiently.

The average business has around 22 applications, with many bigger companies far exceeding that number. When these applications can’t communicate, it leads to:

  • data errors,
  • efficiency lags, and
  • money wasted.

An estimated $30 billion is wasted on unsued business software each year, mainly because companies find that their applications aren’t working the way they expected or wanted them to. Good integrations largely solve that problem by allowing each department to access data within a framework that they are comfortable with.

Most businesses understand or are beginning to understand the importance of well-tuned tech stack integrations.

With IoT, however, things are a little bit different. Many telematics companies need their subscription management platform to be able to integrate with Geotab. This ensures that serial numbers, activation dates, and other telematic-specific considerations are synchronized throughout the tech stack, ensuring the customer is accurately being billed for any usage-based charges.

Because IoT and telematics businesses rely so heavily on usage-based billing, the ability to seamlessly access and maintain accurate subscription information is paramount.

2. Integrate your subscription management solution with your software product

Usage-based IoT products should also be able to integrate directly with your own software product. Manually handling usage-based charges can overwhelm a billing department, particularly as your business grows. The result? Late invoices, mistakes, and very frustrated team members.

By contrast, automating this process can save you enormous amounts of money—many business leaders report saving up to three hours of employee time a day by automating simple tasks—while also freeing up time for your employees to focus their attention on more valuable projects.

Good subscription management software can integrate directly with your product, automatically billing your customer subscriptions and saving significant time. The ability to integrate with your product improves billing accuracy and granularity. It also creates consequences for unpaid invoices—so if an invoice goes unpaid for too long, you can shut down service altogether, so the customer can’t access their account at all until their bill is settled.

For businesses that need to offer a variety of different subscription pricing models, automation and integration are necessary assets, ensuring both scalability and accuracy.

3. Recognize the importance of customer self-service

Any subscription business should heed the increasing importance of self-service portals. Nearly 90% of customers say they expect the businesses they deal with to offer feature self-service portals on their websites.

Another, perhaps needlessly inflammatory survey produced the stat that 70% of customers prefer cleaning the toilet to speaking with customer service representatives on the phone.

Self-service portals empower customers to handle account adjustments in a quick, pain-free environment, eliminating the need for lengthy phone calls with customer service. A good portal allows customers to:

  • easily view their information,
  • quickly access product details (through FAQ, tutorials, etc),
  • provide direct feedback, and
  • make account adjustments.

In terms of maintaining good customer relationships, some form of self-service is a requisite part of doing business. However, that isn’t to say that customers want to handle everything on their own.

Half of all consumers, regardless of age, will still reach out to customer service over the phone, making phone-based communications one of the primary ways that businesses connect with their customers.

It’s a bit of a contradiction, perhaps. People want to handle problems themselves. They’d rather clean the toilet than talk to a person, but they do it anyway, and…

Here’s what’s really going on: People want multiple, high-quality options for handling their account issues. Self-service portals let them handle simple things on their own, like subscription adjustments or the purchase of a new GPS device

Customers appreciate the ability to solve their own problems—particularly when doing so produces the quickest solution.

They ask for help when they need it. When their calls are answered quickly, and received by knowledgeable, helpful staff, they’re pleased.

A good recurring billing platform that offers hosted options for registration pages and self-service portals helps with this. When customers can take care of some problems on their own, your support staff has more time to deal with the bigger problems. Everyone is happy.

Maya Angelou once said that “People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”

That’s customer service in a nutshell. The best subscription management software helps to avoid the frustrations of customer service, giving your team and the consumer a better experience.

4. Use your data wisely

IoT and telematics accounts will inevitably produce a significant amount of data. Your subscription billing software should generate this information in easy-to-view reports that (with the right integrations) can be viewed company-wide by the people who need them.

Use the data.

Your usage-based consumer information might include:

  • Data on usage spikes or declines. How does usage change based on variables like the unveiling of a new feature?
  • Info on what sort of customer is using your product the most. Naturally, with usage-based billing, this is a particularly important consideration. Your billing solution provides important information on customer subscriptions that can be used to optimize your services to cater to the needs of your biggest customers.

Understanding your customers is key to receiving stable recurring revenue. The subscription model thrives on high quality, tailored product features, and customer service. Granular subscription management platform-generated reporting gives you the insights you need to offer the service modern consumers demand.

Subscription management software meets your needs, whatever they may be

Subscription management is one of the most important responsibilities of any SaaS business. Physical products make it trickier. Subscription management software eases the burden by allowing:

  • granular reporting,
  • improved customer service, and
  • high-quality tech stack integrations that improve efficiency.

IoT subscription management is indeed different than that of your run-of-the-mill SaaS business. You know what else is true? There’s really no such thing as a “run-of-the-mill SaaS business”. Every company has its unique needs.

Good subscription management software is there to meet them, regardless of what they might be.

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Tyler Pranke
Tyler Pranke
Business Development Representative, Stax Bill

Tyler a former member of the Business Development team at Stax Bill. He has over 7 years in the hospitality industry before making the jump into the SaaS industry. In his free time, he can be found somewhere on the golf course. Tyler now works with potential prospects to help find the right solution for their recurring billing needs. From small start-up companies to large enterprise companies, he makes sure that Stax Bill can meet and surpass all their needs.