Subscription services – in which a customer gains access to a product or service on an ongoing basis in exchange for a monthly fee – are exploding in popularity across both consumers and enterprise customers. In 2015 the subscription economy grew 13 per cent year-on-year. In 2019, the rate of growth has increased to 22 per cent.
In the consumer space, that growth has been driven by everything from streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify to consumers placing weekly or monthly orders for food, drink and home products online. But subscriptions are just as critical to enterprises where everything from managed services to the cloud is sold via subscription.
While these services are slightly more mature than those in the consumer space, they are still driving a high rate of growth. For instance, driven by platforms such as Microsoft, AWS and Google, Gartner is forecasting a leap of 17.3 per cent in public cloud services spending through 2019.
In fact, the drive towards consumption through subscriptions is strong enough for a US report to note that whether you’re selling to consumers or high-end enterprises, “every business will soon be a subscription business.”
Despite all the hyperbole, there are challenges to providing these services. Companies that sell a recurrent service need to fight hard to keep the customer. Research by management consultant, McKinsey, found “churn rates are high [with subscription e-commerce services]… and customers quickly cancel services that don’t deliver superior end-to-end experiences.”
One of the keys to delivering that superior end-to-end experience is to get the billing right. One of the top reasons behind churn with subscription services is a poor invoicing experience. As US company, Fusebill, noted in a blog post: “If you send invoices randomly and are not accurate, it will only create a negative barrier between you and your core group of users.” It also reported customer service is another area where inferior billing can result in churn, particularly if there is a lack of documentation and information around the product being used.
Exeed has developed a solution to both challenges.
Mycloudstore – more informative billing around Microsoft CSP and deeper Microsoft Azure reporting, with greater accuracy.
To help enterprise service providers meet the challenges of billing presented through the Microsoft CSP platform, Exeed has developed an engine called Mycloudstore, which gives partners a great deal of control over how and when customers are billed for subscriptions and also introduces efficiencies in the billing process through automation.
“Microsoft bills its CSP licensing on a specific time of the month, but through our billing engine, our partners can effectively select the day of the month they would like to bill these subscriptions, either across their whole customer base or on a customer-to-customer basis,” Exeed Cloud Services business development manager, Simon Tabrum, said.
“Previously, with partners that have a large number of subscription and consumption customers, once they get the reconciliation file from Microsoft, it can take as many as four days for them to turn the information around and invoice their customers. Through Mycloudstore, that process is automated and immediate.”
The Mycloudstore platform also allows partners to enhance the customer experience. One of the challenges with Microsoft CSP Licensing is to ensure there isn’t accidental overbilling, when customers acquire licenses and then do not make use of them within the organisation. The portal allows partners to get an instant snapshot of exactly how licenses are applied within the customer, helping to end the possibility of overbilling
Additionally, the Mycloudstore platform allows partners to become more efficient with the insights and information they provide to customers. Because Azure bills on a per-second basis, the resulting usage spreadsheets can become quite large and bloated with information. And the partner historically had to wait for the end of the billing cycle to get accurate information.
“Through the Mycloudstore platform, we wanted to simplify the information being provided, both for the partner, so that they have information that they can use, and the customer, who can get a detailed indication of their Azure usage in near real time,” Tabrum said.
Finally, Exeed has created a new RESTful API endpoint for the Mycloudstore platform that allows partners to integrate everything with their existing billing tools.
Mycloudstore resolves two of the more pressing challenges facing organisations that are selling Microsoft CSP services. With the greater control over the CSP Subscription billing cycle, partners can provide a superior invoicing experience. The ability to pull down more useful and transparent information on how the customer is using Azure will help partners ensure that they are seen as providing next-level customer service.
To learn more visit Exeed’s Mycloudstore.