In attendance recently at Zuora’s US Subscribed conference in San Francisco as an observer and enabler of–rather than a participant in–the subscription economy, I really focused on the strategy content: CEO growth advice, SaaS pricing and packaging approaches, customer experience/success best practices. What I found through these sessions was a recurring theme of a focus on value–value realized by the customer and value captured by the vendor.
While that may seem like something that could be a theme at almost any conference because it is the foundation of business, at Subscribed it stood out in two ways:
- Variety. It is the nature of the subscription business model generally and the SaaS version in particular that there is no unitary “product.” Offerings are a construction of features, services, and access and accrue value (revenue and profit) to the vendor through myriad of pricing structures and levels. Aligning your offering/s with customer value and capturing the appropriate value from the customer in revenue is an iterative process.
- Conviction. Many executives talk about focusing on the customer; at Subscribed, the people I heard and talked to really seemed to understand the implications of this and had built their operations and business with this mindset. This was the rare environment in which most people understood the concept of customer success in SaaS and why it was vital to the success of that business model.
The foundation of all of this, of course, is an understanding of what customer value means to the customer. Going further, the key to balancing the customer value equation (the value derived from the application equals the value you capture in revenue) is understanding what value means to different segments of customers. So while the SaaS industry needs to walk before it can’t run and so needs events like this and the people in attendance at Subscribed to be the evangelists for the new subscription economy and to spread the word of the importance of customer success, it’s important to mention that the ideal state should be one in which customer intelligence and customer behavior analytics play a central role in driving SaaS company success.