Early adopters of subscription-based business models got an early lead on this rapidly growing industry, but new entrants are quickly making up ground and encroaching on their territory. Subscription companies can expect the level of competition to only increase from here, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subscription services have proven to be resilient in the face of that crisis, with roughly 89% of subscription companies reporting increased or level growth rates.
In addition, differences in the subscriber journey compared with traditional customer experiences present extra risk of churn and lost revenue. After all, the cancel button is always close by if subscribers have a bad experience or feel let alone by service quality and delivery.
Both of these factors — increased competition and distinct member experiences — raise the stakes for subscription user journeys. It’s up to subscription companies to deliver a frictionless end-to-end user experience to boost retention levels, prevent churn and maximize revenue.
Importance of user experience grows across verticals
User experience impacts every type of subscription service — whether video, gaming, sports, music, podcasts or audiobooks. Everywhere you look, subscribers want services that are reliable, intuitive to use and “just work.” Customers expect subscription platforms to seamlessly handle every aspect of the user journey, from onboarding and payment processing to their identity, access and consumption, no matter how complicated those processes become.
Let’s look at the example of identity management for video streaming services. When platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video first launched, one user identity might have sufficed for every account and subscription. It quickly became apparent, however, that many users were sharing their accounts with other people in their household or among their group of friends. Clamping down on that activity in order to protect revenue and force people to purchase their own subscription might seem like the obvious decision. Given how popular account sharing is today, any action to curb it could easily dissuade subscribers and cause them to cancel their subscriptions.
Leading streaming services have, instead, leaned into this trend, making it more convenient for customers to create separate user identities on a single account. Amazon Prime Video, for instance, recently allowed customers to add up to six user profiles to their account. There are a lot of experiential benefits to this approach, such as the ability to stream multiple shows or movies at once or build out separate watchlists for each profile, thereby personalizing the user experience for all users.
Amazon may not be making as much money as it could in the short term by allowing multiple users on the same account, but it’s expanding its streaming service to reach new users who might otherwise not use its platform at all.
Similar user experience trends can be seen in other corners of the subscription world, from sports to health services that are looking for an increased personalized experience. It doesn’t matter whichever niche a company operates in, removing points of friction from the user journey is absolutely essential.
Create a frictionless user journey in any environment
Whether you have already launched a subscription service or plan to, you need to give customers a user journey that’s seamless, easy to manage and personalized at every step along the way. That means treating each individual user attached to an account or subscription as a separate person with their own preferences and expectations.
To deliver that kind of experience, companies have to go beyond the traditional approach to identity and access management focused on usernames and passwords. Instead, organizations need to assign individual users their own digital identity and help them manage it across the entire subscription service. That way, subscription services can continually personalize the customer experience for each user — curating content according to profile information and activity history, for instance — increasing their stickiness and preventing churn. This approach will also help subscription services appeal to various audience members as their tastes evolve and continue to deliver relevant content over the long haul.
Reassessing how new content and products are introduced to users is important as well. We’ve seen a significant increase in subscription partnerships in recent months aimed at packaging and delivering multiple types of services to consumers. Case in point: Sky striking a deal with Disney in 2020 to become the sole distributor of Disney+ in the U.K., and adding the popular streaming platform to a slate of bundled services that includes music and sports. As service offerings expand, providers need to have a plan to seamlessly integrate those new products into their platforms, so users can easily move from one to another and experience the full breadth of services at their disposal.
Build the user experience your customers deserve
Customers expect more from their subscription services, and with the ever-increasing competition in the marketplace, merchants need to deliver a frictionless user experience or risk losing ground. Enhancing every stage of the user journey will allow subscription companies to improve customer sentiment, reduce churn and increase long-term retention.
Vindicia Connect offers a wealth of user journey features, including pre-built templates, integrations and APIs to facilitate a better customer experience across the entire subscription lifecycle. Our new identity and access management platform grants you the tools to simplify digital identity management requirements and personalize your platform for every user. Improve engagement, boost conversions and increase upsell opportunities — it’s all possible with Vindicia Connect. Download our new white paper to learn more about creating a fully connected customer experience.