My father recalls that his mother, who lived in a dusty regional South Australian town, had milk regularly delivered to her cottage in milk pails. She was a subscriber.
As a child, my family also had milk deliveries, together with a weekly paper delivery, and a monthly telephone account. We were subscribers.
Today, I am still a subscriber. My subscription services permeate all facets of my life from grocery deliveries, Netflix, household services, various software apps, a pet wellness program, pet food delivery, magazine subscriptions and club memberships.
Subscription services are not new. What has changed is how they are delivered and managed, and the perceived value they can bring to a business.
From a consumer perspective the benefits of subscription services range from convenience, cost-effectiveness, and a sense of community – it’s the new way of keeping up with the Joneses.
From a business perspective, subscription services enable a business to not only sell and transact with a client, but to capture the client and develop a longer-term ongoing relationship. Anyone who has been through family court proceedings knows the longer the relationship the more difficult it can be to sever it.
Predictable recurring revenue, automated billing, increased returns on costs of customer acquisition, easier ability to up and cross sell, promotional incentives to encourage customers to engage, refer and recommend, and richer client data are all benefits flowing from a subscription-based business model.
Our consumer-driven culture places great pressure on businesses – the constant outreach to capture new customers and extend market share, the cost of converting inquiries to clients. Increasingly we see a reduced reliance on reputation, quality of service and word of mouth as consumer decisions –longevity in business is no longer a defining criterion for ongoing business success. Slick, sometimes fickle, advertising campaigns are designed to divert customer attention and their hard-earned cash.
Subscription services are a mechanism that taps into not only the consumer-driven culture but also the historically essential elements of doing business.
The subscription economy is real. Business has realised the benefits of converting what would have been a one-off business transaction to an ongoing relationship where the business has not one, but many, opportunities to communicate and create value for their customer, to develop a more meaningful relationship, and to reduce the constant cost of converting new inquiries to clients.
Read FAQs on this issue relevant to Queensland legal practitioners.
Judy Hayward is a Solicitor with the Queensland Law Society Practice Advisory Service. Find out more about the Practice Advisory Service.