Fueling Recurring Revenue with a Single Customer View

For companies seeking recurring revenue growth, success hinges on having a single view of the customer across the business. But obtaining such holistic perspectives is something few companies actually achieve. The stakes are high. Fragmented customer data can lead to lost sales, customer churn, and lasting brand damage. Agile billing systems, equipped with the right capabilities, are in a unique position within organizations to coordinate data across systems, resulting in more satisfying customer experiences and increased opportunities for monetization.

Companies of all sizes get customer data wrong all the time. For instance, I’ve been a digital subscriber to the New York Times for years. And yet I routinely receive promotional emails inviting me to sign up for a special 12-week introductory rate for new subscribers.

Clearly, the direct marketing department has no idea who I am. That’s an indication that the Times has a problem gaining a single customer view (SCV) of its subscribers. And it’s hardly alone.

Surprisingly, only 6% of companies say they can achieve a SCV even though 90% believe it’s a top priority, according to a recent survey by Signal, a leading cross-channel marketing firm. The main obstacle to achieving a SCV? The inability to merge customer data in real-time from different systems.

It’s a problem shared by nearly every recurring revenue business that extends to virtually all systems handling customer data — finance, billing, fulfillment, CRM, ERP, customer service, and support.


Out of sync means out of luck

By necessity, these systems are most often contained in separate silos. Data coursing through can easily go out of sync or, even worse, fall through the cracks if poorly integrated. When that happens, things can head south fast.

For example, customers may receive the wrong products, get offers for services that their plans don’t support, or continue to receive services they no longer pay for, leading to revenue leakage. The list goes on and on. And so do the repercussions — disaffected customers, greater churn, and losses in trust, brand reputation, and, ultimately, revenues.

For recurring revenue businesses, the problem is pervasive. So, what can be done about it? How can companies get a more encompassing perspective of individual customers? And more to the point, how can that perspective help them improve customer satisfaction and monetization?

Wanted: a cohesive customer view

In recent years, vendor solutions entering the market have attempted to solve the SCV conundrum. Most approach the problem by making some centralized system, like a CRM or a master data management (MDM) platform, the primary hub for ensuring data alignment across various systems.

The problem with these platforms, from a recurring revenue standpoint, is that they’re passive. Yes, they can help give you a more complete picture of your customer, but they can’t actively help you monetize that picture.

Modern billings systems hold the key

The one system that can support your monetization goals is your billing system. That assumes, of course, that you’re fortunate enough to have a new breed of agile billing systems with capabilities such as real-time alerting, push notification, workflow optimization, and automated scheduling.

These billing platforms are among the most centralized of all business systems. They interact with key activities at the heart of a company, including CRM, accounts receivable, fulfillment, and many others. With the ability to trigger event sequences and automatically push, pull, and route key data, they can act as the linchpin that synchronizes and coordinates customer data across disparate information silos.

For example, with their real-time connections to other business systems, modern billing solutions can ensure the “instant on” service activation that today’s customers expect, a feature that helps make customers, and businesses, certain they receive the services they’re actually paying for. These solutions also trim revenue losses by acting with intelligence to ensure customers in dunning no longer receive services. And they automatically trigger alerts when customers are about to cross usage thresholds, allowing the business to respond appropriately, for instance, by proactively offering an upgrade.

Across the board, agile billing systems can help organizations make the most of the “revenue moments” that take place thousands of times a day throughout a business. By facilitating a more complete customer view, these billing systems also help companies provide more personalized and rewarding customer experiences that drive higher revenues company-wide.

About the Author

Sean Kirk
Sean Kirk has been writing about evolving business and technology trends for more than 25 years. His areas of specialty encompass big data, as-a-service offerings, cloud technology, networking, recurring revenue, data security and IP communications, among many others.

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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