The Journey to Usership: A Guide to Succeeding in the Subscription Economy 

By JJ Xia September 16, 2021

 

Today is an exciting day here at Zuora. We’re thrilled to bring our global customer base together for our first-ever Global Customer Day. This is an exclusive experience for our customers, dedicated to learning from the insights of subscription leaders and diving deep into the great new innovations from our Zuora product team. We’re also excited to celebrate some of the major achievements from companies like CarGurus, who exemplified excellence in business operations at the onset of COVID-19, or iRobot, who launched the first subscription for their robot vacuums, along with many others who were nominated for the Zuora Excellence Awards. You can watch the customer awards ceremony, product keynote, and breakout sessions from our customer day event here on zuora.com.

Taking a step back, I can’t help but feel inspired, grateful, humbled, and impressed by the amazing customer community that we brought together today.

What’s been most inspiring over the past decade is the great success stories and great lessons that we’ve seen with our customers. Collectively, our customers have managed relationships with more than 220 million subscribers! That’s the population of a large country! We’ve been lucky to have front row seats on each of our customer’s journeys, and it’s taught us so much about what strategies work, what pitfalls to avoid, and “what good looks like” for subscription success. 

Our goal is to share those learnings with our customers, and help all of us continue to learn and evolve together. At Customer Day, customers shared their own experiences on topics that can help other companies. New Relic shared the story of how they pivoted to a usage-based pricing model. Aura’s CTO shared his expertise around onboarding new business lines through M&A. GoPro spoke about the best practices around scaling a software / hardware subscription offering. These were just a few of the amazingly insightful sessions, and you can catch all of the sessions here.

At Zuora, our mission is to help subscription companies succeed. While our market-leading technology is part of that solution, the expertise gathered across our customer community is just as important in that mission.

And so today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new success framework, The Journey to Usership. This framework is designed to give our customers the guidance, insights, and actionable strategies that can help them grow and succeed in the subscription economy. 

What is The Journey to Usership?

The first thing you’ll notice is that we’re emphasizing the term “Usership”, which is a stark contrast to Ownership. Giving customers the option to use something, change preferences, pause a subscription, and pay for only what they need is far more valuable than forcing them to own a product that might stop working in a few years. Customers want access to solutions that will meet their needs. So say goodbye to ownership, and hello to usership.

Second, how often have you wanted to ask how other companies have solved a challenging problem? Every subscription business faces common challenges and complex initiatives as they grow. Whether you are launching a new service, making go-to-market decisions, changing the enterprise system architecture, facing operations inefficiency, or expanding internationally — there’s a lot to learn from fellow subscription companies that have already been on the journey. That’s exactly what we want to tackle in creating this new framework. 

The Journey to Usership serves as a guiding framework to drive clarity and alignment as a company begins their journey – it combines a customer’s strategy and goals with the expertise, data, and technical implementation knowledge that Zuora has gained over the last 14 years in working with the world’s best subscription companies. There are 5 Focus Areas for every subscription business: Offering Design, Subscriber Experience, Financial Model, Business Operations, and Enterprise Architecture. While the goals in each area changes as a company evolves, all five areas need to work together for any subscription company to succeed.

You can hear more about the various stages of the Journey to Usership from our Chief Customer Officer, Tom Krackler, or download the whitepaper here to learn more

So what does all this mean in practice for Zuora customers?

We built the Journey to Usership to be actionable. The framework will be the organizing principle to keep us focused on our customer’s journeys and priorities. Whether it’s in joint success plans, executive business reviews, services engagements, event breakout sessions, or how we recognize and celebrate customer successes, the Journey to Usership will be our guide in helping our customers succeed. 

We look forward to continuing to learn from our customers and partnering with them on their success. It’s truly been a privilege.

Learn more about how you can begin your subscription journey today.