Scaling Subscription Businesses While Meeting Customer Expectations

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

During our annual Gladly Connect Live panel, we spoke with three CX leaders who work for top subscription model brands to discuss how they balance meeting rising customer demands while maintaining efficiency in service and fulfillment.

Jim Rodden, VP of Customer Experience at MaryRuth; Jennifer McTurk, Senior Director of Customer Happiness at Athletic Greens; and Julie Suarez, VP of Customer Experience at Honest Paws, joined us in conversation to provide a basic roadmap on how to scale a subscription business through powerful CX. Their advice for strengthening a subscription brand’s affinity with customers can be broken down into three key expectation-meeting strategies.

Gladly Connect Live Panel on Subscription Business Best Practices

Customer Service and Your Subscription Business

What is a subscription model?

In ecommerce, the subscription model refers to the payment structure where customers pay a recurring fee to brands on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis for a regular supply of products. This either replaces or complements the traditional pay structure for buying individual products.

The importance of loyalty for digital subscription businesses

Subscription payments are like a financial representation of loyalty — by continuing to subscribe to an ecommerce brand, like the ones our panelists represent, customers are demonstrating their appreciation and commitment to these companies. As long as these subscribers feel they’re getting value and attention from these brands, they’ll keep making those recurring payments.

In the process of driving loyalty, brands need to focus on providing outstanding CX — which ultimately contributes to their financial consistency. In fact, our 2022 Customer Expectations Report found that 42% of consumers would stop buying from a brand altogether after just two bad customer service experiences.

How to Scale a Subscription Business Through Great Service

As the three seasoned CX vets from our Gladly Connect Live panel highlighted, maintaining those crucial long-term subscribers comes from developing loyal relationships. As we’ve seen time and again at Gladly, the key to loyalty is providing exceptional experiences and service. Here’s what our speakers discussed.

1. Create transparency in experience and expectations

Organic vitamin brand MaryRuth struggled out of the gate with its subscription model launch, creating a marketing and support approach that didn’t fully inform one-time buyers about the full benefits of a subscription service.

But, using feedback and analytics to better understand their customers, MaryRuth pivoted and relaunched months later, providing shoppers with clear expectations so they knew what they were receiving, how much they would save, and the support they’d receive along the way.

“We relaunched in January and it’s been a raging success. Our subscriptions are up 20% and our average order value is way up, too. We’ve ridden this wave of passion that our customers have by really trying to make sure we’re there for them.”

Jim Rodden

VP of Customer Experience, MaryRuth

2. Make your agents integral to the solution

Jennifer McTurk, Senior Director of Customer Happiness at Athletic Greens, highlighted how the people at the frontlines of the nutrition subscription company are acting as the voice of the brand.

Agents drive the narrative as much as marketing or sales while also hearing the most first-hand customer feedback. They can report back on that info to inform better ease of experience, working in the subscription process, or identifying how to streamline important steps in the journey, like the payment process.

“We tell them they’re the voice of the brand, we give them voice of brand training… We spend a lot of time getting [agents] to speak about what’s on their minds and be active participants in helping [Athletic Greens] level up.”

Jennifer McTurk

Sr. Director of Customer Happiness, Athletic Greens

3. Maintain positive interactions with customers, new and old

At pet brand Honest Paws, VP of Customer Experience Julie Suarez consistently reinforces the uniqueness of every customer, emphasizing that each shopper within the subscription journey could take a different amount of time to become loyal.

By maintaining strong CX and service, and keeping the interactions positive and helpful, Honest Paws has been able to win subscribers by being diligent. Recognizing the ongoing and fluctuating nature of subscription services and their revenue streams, Honest Paws never gives up on a customer and reaps the benefits as a result.

“The product doesn’t always work out, but you have to keep the breakup amicable… We’re super kind to the customer, we follow through, and if they still receive our marketing emails — like if we have new products — we [have an opportunity] to follow up.”

Julie Suarez

VP of Customer Experience, Honest Paws

Building Blocks of a Strong Subscription Brand

These three pros’ insights on optimal customer experience form the basis for a scalable ecommerce subscription brand. Use the following list to start putting some of our panelists’ ideas into practice across your CX:

  • Optimize customer self-service to emphasize personalization
  • Implement user-friendly payment processing that incorporates options across channels
  • Improve customer experience with analytics reporting to highlight opportunity areas
  • Foster a well-supported customer community that keeps shoppers communicating and highlighting brand strengths
  • Putting Loyalty at the Forefront of Subscriptions

    In their time on the Gladly Connect Live panel, our three expert speakers reinforced why it’s so important for subscription ecommerce brands to learn how to drive loyalty through support. By adopting their tactics, brands can take actionable steps to optimize CX, ultimately encouraging shoppers to stay committed.

    Watch the Gladly Connect Live panel for more insight into how to scale a subscription business through CX.


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