Unleashing Customer Potential in 2023 through Industry Insights

Jul 27, 2023 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

In today’s customer-centric subscription space, 87% of businesses report retaining a subscriber is more valuable than acquiring one. This trend emerges from a demand for higher-quality customer experiences. How can you refine your subscription programs to accelerate brand growth?

Generally, retention strategies in subscription businesses involve offering discounts and incentives, implementing engaging experiences through automation, and email and SMS campaigns. But as customers become increasingly sophisticated, brands have experienced barriers to personalizing the user experience, outperforming competition, deploying loyalty programs, and analyzing and applying consumer data. Addressing these challenges to provide a superior customer experience may include allowing subscribers to manage their subscriptions freely and offering bundled subscriptions that introduce them to additional products. 

In this virtual event, Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson sits down with Carl Nightingale, the Director and Head of Product Retention at Chargebee, to discuss subscription trends, challenges, and strategies. Carl explains how technology drives customer satisfaction, the impact of subscription trends on customer retention strategies, and how to create innovative subscription programs for customer loyalty. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Predominant trends, insights, and statistics in the subscription industry
  • Standard strategies for increasing customer retention
  • How to boost customer loyalty through innovative programs
  • What are brands’ most significant customer retention challenges?
  • Investing in technology to drive customer satisfaction
  • How subscription trends impact customer retention strategies
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Event Partners


Chargebee is the leading end-to-end revenue management platform for businesses employing a subscription model, supporting 6500+ customers globally.

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Guest Speakers

Carl Nightingale LinkedIn

Head of Product Retention at Chargebee

Carl Nightingale is the Director and Head of Product Retention at Chargebee, the leading revenue growth management (RGM) platform for subscription businesses. In his role, he builds products to help retention managers retain customers. Carl also held various positions, including Product Manager and Director of Growth Operations at Brightback, an automated customer retention company acquired by Chargebee as an independent product line. 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Event Moderator

Carl Nightingale LinkedIn

Head of Product Retention at Chargebee

Carl Nightingale is the Director and Head of Product Retention at Chargebee, the leading revenue growth management (RGM) platform for subscription businesses. In his role, he builds products to help retention managers retain customers. Carl also held various positions, including Product Manager and Director of Growth Operations at Brightback, an automated customer retention company acquired by Chargebee as an independent product line. 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

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Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Senior Digital Strategist Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  0:18  

Happy Thursday everybody. I am Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson, a digital strategist with BWG Connect, and we are a network and knowledge sharing group, we stay on top of the latest trends challenges, whatever is going on in the digital landscape, we want to know and talk about it. We're on track to do at least 500 of these virtual events this year, due to the increase in demand to better understand everything in the digital space. And we'll also be doing at least 100 in-person, small format dinners. So if you happen to be in a tier one city in the US, feel free to send us an email or check out BWGconnect.com. For upcoming events, we'd love to have you join, they're typically 15 to 20 people having a certain discussion around a digital topic. And it's always a fantastic time, we spend the majority of our time talking to brands, that's how we stay on top of latest trends and challenges would love to have a conversation with you. So feel free to drop me a line at tiffany@bwgconnect.com. And we can get some time on the calendar. It's from those conversations we understand the content and topics you want to know more about. And it's also where we gain our resident experts such as Chargebee, who's with us today, anybody that we asked to teach the collective community has come highly recommended from multiple brands. So if you're ever in need of any recommendations within the digital space, please don't hesitate to reach out we have a shortlist of the best of the best. And I'd be happy to provide that information to you. So also note Oh yeah, hiring needs. Now we have Hawkeye Search. So how can I search is formulate BWG talents, and we can put you in contact with them as well should you have any hiring needs at this time. So a few housekeeping items. First and foremost, we want this to be fun, educational, conversational. So put those questions comments into the chat, the q&a bar or whatever you feel more comfortable with, or you can email me at Tiffanybwgconnect.com, we will get to them we're going to be interactive. Today, we're going to do a few polls to liven up the discussion. So it should be a fun time. And rest assured we did start a few minutes after the hour. So we're going to wrap up at least five to 10 minutes before the end of the hour to let you get to your next destination spot. So with that, let's roll and start to talk about unleashing the customer potential through insights on customer retention. The team at Chargebee have been awesome friends in the network. So I'm gonna kick it off to you, Carl, if you can give a brief introduction on yourself, and then we can dive into the presentation. That would be lovely. Thank you.


Carl Nightingale  2:40  

Yeah, thank you, Tiffany. And thank you BWG team for inviting me, we're really excited to participate today and to share some learnings with you all on what we're seeing in the industry and also learn from you on what you're seeing in the industry when it comes to retention and just online digital experiences in general. So I will jump in. My name is Carl Nightingale, I'm the head of product for Chargebee retention. Some background on me, I've been in the SaaS b2b retention space for about 910 years now working formerly as a retention operations manager within subscription businesses and now heading up the product unit for Chargebee retention that is building a tool and solution for retention managers to retain more subscribers. So I've kind of lived on both sides of the coin. Prior to joining the Chargebee team, I was the first customer of our product. So I actually implemented the product as a user at my prior employer, which was a high volume CRM business. So think online CRM signups kind of competitor of Salesforce, although a very small competitor of Salesforce, and then I joined the team at charge of your attention about four years ago, we were previously bright back, we were acquired by Chargebee, in January of last year, and I've been working with the Chargebee team since then to build out our solution with inside of Chargebee. So I'll talk a little bit about what our product does. And then we'll get into the meat of the discussion and the insights that we want to share with you today. So what we do is we provide cancellation experiences that solve the voluntary churn moment in a subscription business. So a lot of you may be familiar with involuntary churn or credit card failure typically is anywhere from, you know, 30 to 40%, of churn in a subscription business. But then there's the other side of the coin, which is the voluntary churn, which is when a user decides they want to terminate a subscription service, and they go to cancel it. And so we provide online experiences to manage that workflow end to end. And we do that through kind of four real pillars of our product. We have personalized experiences that are custom and tailored to the end user. We allow you to target specific offers to specific audiences. That's really the crux of the platform is the ability to show the right user the right incentive or the right messaging to keep them in a subscription service. And then we automate the workflows associated with that. So once a user accepts an offer or tries to cancel, we take that information and send it to your downstream systems and help you process the outcome. And then we provide insights on everything that's going on allowing you to optimize that experience for downstream retain revenue, and ultimately increasing the LTVs of a subscriber. And so we provide this system of engagement that allows you to save more customers at the moment of cancellation. And we found that typically, you know, on average, we can deflect between 15 and 30% of customers from canceling in that moment, and system wide. Today, we're saving about 15% of those users. So they're completing another order, or staying with the subscription service for another order after trying to cancel or visiting the cancel experience. So that's what our product and service does today, we integrate into many of the major billing platforms out there. And we kind of provide the most robust and solution to manage voluntary churn the platform versus building it in house. So we work with prominent DTC, n eCommerce brands, as well as SaaS businesses, but we found a real great fit in the eCommerce and direct consumer market where the right experience and the right incentive for a user can really drive results. So that's a little bit about Chargebee. Retention. We're gonna jump into some of the data here,


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  6:23  

now. So I see a hand raised, we have a question. No, I think, Yep, I got it. Yes, sir. logistics, logistics? Cool. Awesome.


Carl Nightingale  6:36  

Well, so what I wanted to talk to you all today about is we ran a the first Chargebee's first ever state of the subscription industry report this year. And we had surveyed over 300 leaders in North America across a range of different titles and levels, but trying to get a broad sampling of some of the trends and patterns that people are seeing in the industry. And we're really excited to share some of that information with you today and engage in a discussion on what you can do with this information and how you can leverage it to improve your retention or your customer subscription experience. So with that I'm gonna jump in. So the first thing that stood out in our survey was that 87% of leaders say that retaining a subscriber is more important than inquiring one. And this is a pattern shift that we've been observing over the last several years, as you know, the economy has shifted out of the hyper growth phase. And as things have changed, in the macro picture environment, subscription businesses are doubling down on the fact that they're, you have an entire subscriber base already. And if you can keep more of those subscribers, and continue to monetize more of those subscribers, you're going to be able to drive more growth and more value for your business than just focusing on top line acquisition. So that's a pattern that we've been seeing really, you know, emerged for a while now. And it's a big reason why charge your attention exists in the market. And it's a big reason why we think that there's a real opportunity around the whole retention discussion. So Tiffany, I want to kick this to you and see what you're seeing on your end and kind of what how this jives with some of the insights you're getting in the market.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  8:11  

Yeah, for sure. Um, retention has been like the word of the year, I feel like everybody that we're talking to, it doesn't matter what you are selling, what industry you are in, like everybody is about, how do you retain that customer because it took so much work and so much money to acquire them. And more and more teams have less bandwidth less investment in their solutions, their spend them they have the last like couple years, being in the pandemic years. So they are really trying to maximize that only internally what they got, but then also from a customer base, what they have and how to nurture it and grow it. Absolutely. That does not surprise me.


Carl Nightingale  8:54  

No, and I think, you know, one thing that also stood out, we did this survey, you know, a couple of years ago at Bright back before we were part of Chargebee. And one of the things that we found is that a lot of consumers are, especially in the eCommerce and digital space, are saying things like we will only subscribe to a business that allows us to cancel it online, or will only subscribe to a business that prioritizes customer experience. And so I think we're coming out of that old world where, you know, Black Hat Trick tactics or deceptive experiences lock people into Subscriptions. And we're coming into the new world where it's got to be much more customer centric and much more friendly for the end user. But I think that's a big emerging pattern that we're also seeing in the data coming out of these surveys is that the consumer side is expecting higher quality experiences when they engage with the retention or sorry, is subscription brands. And they really demand a better customer experience, which is why I think we're starting to see so many leaders prioritize this retention as a growth vector for their business. They know that doubling down on that subscriber experience and making it a really great one. It's really important. So that's another thing that stood out.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  10:06  

Yeah, it's table stakes at this point to give that functionality of being able to opt in for a subscription. That's like step one, right? That's no longer just like the end all be all. And I hadn't read, which I thought was so interesting is the average American consumer has four subscriptions that they're managing at one time, and that you as a brand, have to think about those subscriptions, and they may not be in your vertical. So you may be selling a consumer product. But actually, Netflix can be a competitor to you, in the eyes of the consumer, because at the end, it's their budget, and they're looking at those subscriptions as a whole. And so they might actually opt out on yours, because they want to keep something that's completely unrelated to what your industry is, which was very eye opening. The challenge,


Carl Nightingale  10:57  

totally. And it's something we also have seen this year, we benchmark all the different reasons we see for users canceling a subscription service. And we've seen a big uptick in reasons around removing a subscription service, because I don't have budget for it, or I'm consolidating the number of things I subscribe to, because I'm tightening my budget, right. And so I think we went through a world during the pandemic, where it was really easy to subscribe to things we were staying at home, we didn't have, you know, the in person experiences, we weren't getting out of the house as much. And so our number of subscriptions, probably per person or per household shot up during that period of time. And now we're kind of seeing the drawback on that, and people reducing the number of subscriptions they have in their, you know, their individual portfolios of products and really looking hard. Is this something I need? Or is it something that's adding value to me, and it's one of the big themes we've seen among the brands we work with is how can they differentiate themselves from you know, experience perspective and from the services that they offer. And, and from the moment a customer subscribes all the way through the lifecycle to really, you know, maintain that mindshare, and be one of the services that consumers decides to stick with. And that's a big theme has been emerging as well. So I think it's probably a good time to ask our first audience question.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  12:12  

All right, we got the fool here. That's what is. I gotta figure out which one I'm doing here. Sorry. It's all good.


Carl Nightingale  12:29  

So, Walter, but his point is, we wanted to ask the audience, can you share any innovation strategy your companies use to increase customer retention. So I would love to understand what you all are doing to drive more customer attention in your businesses


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  12:40  

today. Alright, the poll is launched. And we'll give about 3040 seconds for everyone to. Coming in hot, awesome. Give him another 30 seconds or so. Cool. I'm excited to see


Carl Nightingale  13:32  

what folks are saying here, because we've got some data on this from our survey, but I'd be curious to see how the audience aligns with that.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  13:45  

And apology and the way it's titled, so it says questions 123. I'm making the assumption, you all can see all three questions that we're going to be pulling right now, because I see data coming in on all three. Totally. Okay, we'll get there. Might as well just get it in now. And then we can speak to it as we move along. We so


Carl Nightingale  14:07  

Tiffany mentioned we have two additional questions that we'll get to here in a second. They are what are the biggest challenges your company faces in customer retention in eCommerce Industry? And what trends you foresee in the eCommerce sector that could potentially impact customer retention strategies? And we'll break down the answers to each of these as we go forward. All right, so I


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  14:26  

think we got the first one and that's looking good 100% answers. So thank you all for participating in that. So the number one answer is discounts and incentives. 75% Or is that surprising to you? Well,


Carl Nightingale  14:45  

it's higher than what we found. It is the number one category in our survey, so it's not surprising from that standpoint. I think naturally discounts and incentives are a really great place for folks to start and their retention journey there. often low hanging fruit. And I think that's why we see, especially in the eCommerce space, and that's why we see, you know, I think the majority of folks mentioned discounts and incentives, and one of their top strategies, I think double clicking on that a little bit when I work a lot with eCommerce brands. And one of the things we hear a lot about is the surprise and delight play in the eCommerce subscription space. So the idea there being when a customer has reached a certain loyalty threshold, add something to the subscription, they don't, you know, surprises them, they weren't expecting. So a common example, like we work with a subscription box coffee box, they get to five orders. And for the sixth order, they add a free gift into the order something from their product suite that they can add. So they're no low margin product. But it is an incentive to keep the customer engaged and really just a reward for a loyal customer. And I think that's an area where it discounts and incentives have worked really well, as well as kind of across the customer lifecycle, especially in the eCommerce space. Any thoughts on that? Tiffany? 


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  16:00  

Yeah, that is makes so much sense. And very cool to see that it aligns exactly with what the audience is saying. It's interesting to look at the second one automation. We had 25%, which would be third in line. And you're saying it's about second? And what the focus? Yeah.


Carl Nightingale  16:28  

Son we in our survey, we found that automation was stalking what was actually second in our poll


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  16:32  

here. Actually, second was engagement. Got it? So yeah, yep. So they flip flopped, I think, preempt even do


Carl Nightingale  16:44  

so that's not surprising. I think what we see from a lot of folks are a lot of folks that we work with, they want to drive more preemptive engagement, but they're limited from resources and from their ability to deploy that engagement experience within their business. So you know, I think that a lot of the most mature subscription businesses are doing things like pre emptive engagement and proactively reaching out to you, when they start to see things drop off, I actually just got an email from a service that I subscribed to that was basically out reaching out to me saying, Hey, you haven't been in our solution very long. You know, are you? Are you sure you need everything you have? Do you want to downgrade? Or do you want to come back and get what you've been paying for. And it's a subtle way to give me an option to get out. But really, what they're trying to do is get me back into solution or by reminding me that I'm not what I'm what I'm getting. And I think that type of engagement is something that the leaders in the space are doing, but a lot of folks struggle to deploy. And I think that's where the automation comes in. First is if you're able to start to automate parts of your subscriber journey, and you know, remove some of the manual overhead that occurs in those parts, you can focus more on the pre emptive engagement, you can focus more upstream, right? So it's something we see a lot of, for example, we work with customers who have like support driven or agent driven, you know, everything is done through the Asian, you can't get any of the services online that you would need to help with that subscription, whether it be canceling, upgrading, downgrading all that and those businesses struggle a lot, right, because they spent a lot of manpower and human resources on addressing things that consumers expect to just happen in the solution. So I think that's why we see automation first, because folks are investing in the automation side, so that they can get to some of the other things that are coming downstream, if that makes sense.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  18:25  

It totally does. And where does SMS come in? Is that really the core of the automation?


Carl Nightingale  18:31  

Yeah, it depends on the you know, the different products and channels, I think some products use SMS as a really strong channel, because it just worked well, for the consumer brand. I know a lot of the subscription services I worked with will send me discounts over text or send me, you know, incentives via text. And that works out really well in those businesses. Another area that we're seeing work really well and maybe, you know, subscription products where you don't have that SMS channel is social channel retargeting, and, you know, dropping a reminder about the product into a LinkedIn feed or, you know, Instagram feed is something I'm seeing a lot more eCommerce companies do. And I'm hearing that they're seeing pretty strong results. Because the mindshare in those platforms. People are more receptive to that type of messaging in certain places than just an outreach via text. But we also are seeing SMS as a major channel, you know, emails a major channel in the sense that a lot of folks have emailed retention strategies. I think the efficacy of emails always a question mark, right, is how well does the email perform relative to other strategies. And then another one that we're seeing a lot of is in app pop ups. So for example, I work with a subscription business that's a copy provider that has you can subscribe to a membership program for their coffee. And every time you know, you subscribe to a monthly membership and you get a discounted coffee when you go into the store. And they're doing a lot around, prompting you on a location A service when you walk into the store with with incentives and discounts, or opportunities. And I know that that, you know, eCommerce that play in eCommerce is working as well, kind of that reminder based on kind of both time and location and proximity to the service that you're providing works really well or is working really well from an automation perspective for some of our customers? So it's a great question. Any other interesting insights from the audience? Were there certain areas that didn't bubble up as priorities or not mentioned? But


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  20:32  

I've, from what we've heard this year about loyalty programs, I thought maybe that one would actually be higher. So you're saying 23%? And we had, like, close the poll. Now? Look, we had 29% on the call here. That just seems it goes hand in hand with that whole idea of retention and treating that customer who has been reordering with VIP status. And it seems like it I'm making the assumption lower hanging fruit, to be able to retain them. Yeah,


Carl Nightingale  21:11  

I think that's right, I think we're starting to see I mean, on the loyalty front, I'm hearing a lot of buzz in the space around loyalty. There was actually a big component of the I don't know, if folks are familiar with recharge, that provide us billing platform, it sits on top of Shopify, they had an event earlier in the year and a big theme was how to drive more customer loyalty through loyalty programs around subscription businesses. And I think it's another area where seeing that like the best in the class are doing it and and some of the best subscription providers out there are doing a really good job with loyalty programs. I think the reason that my hypothesis, and I could be wrong, but my hypothesis on why that's a little bit lower down on the survey results is that it's a bit of a heavier lift to implement a program around like the customer loyalty programs or some of the initiatives that are out there. And folks are trying other things, it might be easier to get deployed first before they jump to that full loyalty program. That being said, I expect to see this increase significantly in the coming years over as we continue to do this survey going forward, I would imagine that that data point is going to go up, because we are seeing a lot of buzz around this program. And we also know that when done well, loyalty programs can really boosts the LTV of the subscriber and keep subscribers a lot longer in a service. I think the other piece of that that's challenging is that they are longer payoff or harder to quantify ROI on and some other initiatives, right? Because they have definitely take downstream cohorts to mature to see the full impact. So actually was talking to you we actually had it was talking to a subscription brand at the subscription summit earlier in the year. And they just launched a loyalty program. And we asked the question on stage. Well, how is that going? What's the ROI of that program? And the CEO of that business? They will? I don't know, I'll get back to you in a year. I can't quite measure it yet. I've still got some work to do. We think it's doing really well. It's creating really positive buzz, our customers are excited about it, but we don't yet know. And so I think that might have something else to do with it is a little bit more longer tail pay off. But I would encourage folks to consider investing in those longer tail payoffs with under the guidance that little improvements in the customer journey and the customer experience are going to have cascading improvements on your retention metrics. It's kind of like compounding interest, right, the little things over time really pay off over.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  23:33  

And other ideas that I've seen with brands this year is product bundles that are only going to be given to that loyalty group, or like first sneak peek at a new product launch. Like they get like first dibs on that opportunity. So with those type of ideas fall under a loyalty program per se, or is that really the loyalty program as a full fledged launch of a membership program?


Carl Nightingale  24:04  

It's a good question. I think it depends on where you draw the line, I would consider that part of a loyalty program. It might not be a full on my membership program in a formal sense. But I think that's a good example of something you can do as a loyalty measure to your subscribers. You know, I can think of a really relevant example. I'm a T Mobile Subscriber they bundled MLB TV and my T Mobile subscription this year, I've been subscribing to MLB TV for 10 years been paying for it every year this year. I didn't pay for it because it was part of my mobile phone bill. Right? That's a good example of bundling in a sense of like creating a loyalty moment and it's like an incentive bundle to is a loyalty play. So I view that as kind of both incentive and loyalty program. That makes sense.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  24:47  

Yeah, for sure. And it's something that yeah, if you don't have the budget or the time to actually do a full fledge launch of a membership program. It's a good way to just get a little bit of gauge of like, is there opportunity there, too. Have it be a testing ground.


Carl Nightingale  25:01  

Finally, the other thing I'll say is that like, it doesn't just have to be bundling of like different products, maybe you don't have multiple products, but you can create bundles that nudge a user to a plan tier that's more advantageous to you. And so a good example of this, as we see monthly subscription services, when a customer gets to three, four or five months, bumping them up to a quarterly or biannual plan or an annual plan at a significant discount, but you're locking in six more months or three more months, or 12 more months of LTV, right, and that play is working well, especially when you can have other channels and monetize the user outside of just the recurring subscription by keeping them as a part of your brand and getting them into your ecosystem and getting them exposed to other products or one time purchases or other things like that. So bundling not just in terms of bundling products together, but bundling packaging, in a way that's advantageous to the subscriber, I think is a really valuable strategy, especially with what we're seeing about kind of the reduction in subscription packages that one user is willing to subscribe to. And overall, being able to differentiate in those manners is driving success in a lot of businesses.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  26:11  

So it's a great call up for leverage reminder, questions, comments, put them into the chat q&a, and we will get to them as we move along with these results. Can we talk real quick about the customer posits, because you're at 90, then the audience was at 12%. This would be it seems having been fooled by subscriptions before, whereas I ended up at my friend door. And I'm like, Really, I got another one. Like I thought I told you has definitely made myself I've cancelled because it just it's left me with a bad experience. And I think it really comes down to that communication piece of when I have a subscription that tells me Hey, you got three days to change. Do you want your food box this week, you can cancel, I really appreciate that. And then I've had some food services that it just shows up on my door and it's melted, and that I cancelled. So would love to expand on this one. Because I think


Carl Nightingale  27:06  

I mean, I think it's a great call out right. And I think it's something that people don't do enough of and they should do more of. And it's especially in eCommerce business, we see a lot of people call it a skip. Right? So rather than a pause, skip an order. So for me, you know, if I'm subscribed to products that shipped to my home in California, while I'm out in Boston right now, so I'm not home, I skipped three orders because it just doesn't make sense for me to get that product, it makes sense for me to get it well and come back. But it doesn't make sense for me to get it right now, pushing skip in the portal and being like the customer portal where I've managed my subscription and just being able to skip skip skip is a much better experience than canceling coming back on maybe paying for it again. But by the time three weeks go by, do I really care about paying for it again? Or do I really want it? Or am I going to come back? I don't know. Maybe I'm not. But if you give me that option to skip, I'm way more inclined to stay. I mean, some businesses do a really good job with this. You know, peloton is great at letting you pause your membership, they give you the option to pause for up to one two or three months when you first go to pause knowing that you're going on vacation or you're going you know you don't need the the bike subscription right now, etc. That's one area where you see it, I see it a lot in the eCommerce one letting you skip, they'll present the next three orders to you that are coming. And they let you either skip an order or swap out a product in that order. In them really sophisticated subscription businesses. That's a great strategy. Another one that we're seeing emerge as a big one is gifting a subscription. So I have too much product of a service, but I want to send it to my friend. So I send it to Tiffany here and instead of me getting the box this month, she gets it and she gets exposed to the product and they still fulfill an order. They still keep me as a subscriber, I get to surprise a friend, we all feel good about it. Maybe the friend likes the product and they start subscribing. That's another it's kind of a mini referral program with a incentive offer a pause skip option. So I think it's an area that people should be investing more in. If you're not letting users skip an order and your recurring box subscription. I would really suggest including that we have a customer of ours that does scription underwear services. Their number one reason for cancellation is I have too much underwear, surprise, surprise, right. And so skipping a couple of waters, or gifting those orders or swapping to a different product is a really good strategy to combat that. So it's a great call out. I think that that we'll see


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  29:31  

brilliant idea with a gift in great ways. Become a brand ambassador. Very cool. I suppose we move on to the next.


Carl Nightingale  29:39  

Awesome Yeah. So with next question that we asked is What are the biggest challenges your company faces in customer retention in eCommerce Industry? SoTiffany, I'd love to hear kind of what stood out on this poll from the group.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  29:50  

All right. And so I guess I'm not sharing it all because you did it all in one swoop and you'll see all the results at once. So I'm trying to kind of leave Academy Award here and like Keep some suspense. So for this, we are at 41% is saying difficulty in personalizing the customer experience. And zone. The second thing we've heard all your retention, number one, personalizing the customer experience.


Carl Nightingale  30:20  

Yeah. So I'd love to hear what you're hearing on that front, because I could go into this person talking about this for a long time. But I don't want


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  30:28  

statements on this. Yes. For all the brands out there, right now, it doesn't matter what you are selling, who you are, how big you are, how small you are, everybody is having this challenge. And especially those that dove in deep, which we all had to working with Amazon, you don't get that one PII data, you know, you don't get that personalizing, understanding that customer journey. It's very washed the data you get from them. So now brands are trying to figure out, how do I find that customer when they want my service or product? You know, where is that and that can be in many different areas within the omni channel. So another word that we keep hearing back that I haven't heard from since like 2013, Omni channel is back, you know, bringing the omni channel back has definitely been top of mind for a lot of brands.


Carl Nightingale  31:21  

Yeah, totally. And I think this is one of those big considerations that a lot of people have to make when they you know, choose different vendors to partner with. There's the all these ecosystem providers out there, you know, there's the big players, there's the small upstarts that are coming into the space. And one of the things that is consistent that I'm hearing, every time we work with customers is they want the ability to control the end user experience, they want the ability to personalize things, they want it to look and feel like their product and service service, I have not met a subscription business out there that doesn't think their brand is a great and be really important to their overall product value proposition. I think they might inflate the perception of their branding. But they're correct in the sense that that brand and that user experience ties holistically to the value of the service, especially in a world where subscriptions are getting more and more saturated, right? So there's a box for everything now, right? You can literally subscribe to a box for everything you could ever imagine wanting delivered to your door. And so how do you stand out above the fray? And how do you kind of elevate above the frame and provide that, you know, top level customer experience. And I think that's a challenge, but also an opportunity. And the brands that can leverage the personalized for the end user data about their customer present personalized experiences, our expert seeing elevated success, I think one of the big things that stood out in our previous versions of the survey is that customers expect a personalized experience, generic experiences and one size fits all messaging are the thing of the past, right? Those don't work anymore. And you have to know who I am. And you have to know what I've done in your product to give me the best experience possible. And so I think the other area that we've seen a massive spike in investment in the ecosystem is around data. And being able to get the data to drive that customer experience and being able to organize and clean up the data to drive that customer experience. And I think it's one of the things that description brands struggle with but also again, present some real opportunity to differentiate. So that's a great call out. Definitely,


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  33:26  

and we have a tie for number two. So at 35% we have increasing competition in the eCommerce Industry. And then also at 35%, we have difficulty in creating customer loyalty programs.


Carl Nightingale  33:42  

And that ties to our previous discussion around loyalty programs, right. You know, I would be wondering, it's might be putting the audience on the spot. But I would love to hear if there's anyone in the audience that would like to share the types of difficulties. They're having loyalty program creation, I'd love to hear more from the group about that. You know, it's been a minute since I've worked on a loyalty program for my own business. So I'd be curious to hear what others are seeing that makes that challenging today?


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  34:08  

Yeah, if anybody wants to share in the chat, it's only panelists that are seeing the answers or the responses to what you're putting in. So definitely feel free to share it with love to


Carl Nightingale  34:19  

look at. And I think the conference, the competition piece is obvious, right? Like, I mean, that's the thing that's happened over the last, you know, the COVID boom in subscriptions has resulted in there being just so many more options out there. And so I think how you stay above the competition is an ongoing conversation that folks need to have. But I think it really comes back to the other two options, right? But the other two things, your customer experience, the loyalty programs, you're able to support those the types of things that are going to differentiate you from the competition in the space.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  34:51  

Absolutely. And then third in line, no surprise, really, an ability to analyze and use custom your data?


Carl Nightingale  35:01  

Yep, exactly along with what we talked about. So let's jump to some of the areas that we see subscription leaders investing in from our survey and our results, you know, far and away, the number one category was technology and tooling. And I think this fits in with a lot of the challenges and opportunities in the space that people are seeing. There's a whole new stack of tech around data and data aggregation and data management to be able to drive things like loyalty programs and drive the right incentive or the right personalization. And so that really stood out like there's not many subscription leaders out there that aren't investing in additional technology and tooling in this area. I think it was interesting to see that incentives. And you know, when you combine incentives and loyalty and membership, you know, a large percentage, 59% of people are looking for a way to increase customer retention, and customer satisfaction in their subscription business. And then you see things like predictive analytics and online advertising. And I think online advertising is dropped as a share significant who ran the same poll 510 years ago, you'd see a completely different, you know, landscape here. So that's really interesting. And I think the predictive one is also interesting, because I imagine that if we reran this poll, next year, there's going to be a significant increase in that with the AI movement and everything that's going on, you know, with open AI in the space. I don't know what you think about that.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  36:24  

Yeah, the AI next year, that is going to be the area where there more budget talks. Right now, there's a lot of curiosity around it. But I could see you next year, rubber hit the road there. So nothing that really like, whoa, that's surprising from leaves as well. Awesome.


Carl Nightingale  36:24  

I think we did get a Yeah, answer.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  36:36  

But the gifting of how subscription works? Can you go over that quickly? of just? How do you gift if you have a subscription?


Carl Nightingale  36:59  

Yeah, so there's something that I've seen start to pop up more and more in eCommerce businesses. And when you go to skip or pause or cancel an order in a recurring box subscription, plus brands are giving you a form that lets you say no, instead of skipping it, I want to send it to a friend and plug in their information. And they'll put it in like a gift package and send it out, right. And so it's the idea of rather than having that subscription come to me, I'm rerouting it to someone else. Typically, the wherever the area, I've seen this that leverage the most is in that Skipper pause flow. So when I go to skip an order, and pop up and say, Would you rather send this order to someone, someone instead of skipping it. And if I say yes, giving me the workflow to do so, one of the areas I've heard complaints around these solutions is not being able to capture, you know, the leads from who you're sending the gifts to. So making sure that you set up your funnel to be able to understand who those gifts are being sent to, because that's a referral lead for you as an acquisition play. But that's where I've seen that strategy deployed the most. You know, it also can work in digital products. But the gift is more like send this this, you know, badge or this thing to a friend to get them engaged in the platform. It's kind of the idea. It's a, I think it's an offshoot of the idea of referral marketing, or social marketing and, you know, a viral growth loop for a product, there was a social loops with all the rage around products like Uber and others, where it's very natural for me to share the user experience with a friend and then get that friend into the solution. The this is kind of the e-comm version of that, which is like share the product with a friend, but you're paying for it. So you're like the company is not giving free product. And so from a margin perspective, the brand is a lot better off. And if you're shipping a free product to a random person, and it's coming from someone I know, right? So if I receive a friend from my best friend Wes, who and I receive a gift from Wes, I know it's coming from someone I trust. So it's coming with a recommendation stamp of approval on it. And I think that's a strategy that's working pretty well in some, you know, eCommerce businesses where it's a natural fit. Obviously, it's not one size fits all. If you're selling a vitamin product, it's personalized to my health and then don't let me give that to someone else. That obviously wouldn't work. Maybe instead stand like instead of me getting my orders saying like, refer a friend and pause the order but be an option, right?


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  39:31  

Or underwear. underwear subscription might be kind of weird, too. Yeah, don't


Carl Nightingale  39:35  

don't give the underwear that's a great point. Anyway, well, we'll jump forward here to I think we've got one more question that we asked what do we see from trends, what are the


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  39:46  

trend data showing? Alright, so trend data we have done through the growing role of AI in the customer service sector. That was number one F 53%


Carl Nightingale  40:01  

Yep. And that aligns again within these are kind of building on each other. So I wonder why there were set up that way. But I think that's this is national, right AI is all the rage in the space. You know, it'll be interesting to see how AI plays in like the consumer, eCommerce subscription business world, I think around servicing the customer and providing better experiences, you can leverage artificial intelligence to do that. But again, one of the big areas that it comes back to is the data and data quality and being able to aggregate all that data together. And I think that's an area that folks are struggling with, but there's also a massive opportunity in the market. So there's going to be a whole new set of vendors that come into the world, around cleaning up and aggregating data to support AI use cases. And that I see is a big opportunity for this space going forward. We also got someone in the chat who chimed in that more emphasis on mobile. So option B is, you know, a big trend. I think that's another area we're seeing, you know, everything is moving more and more mobile first. You know, just from a data point, when I launched our retention product four years ago, about 70% of our traffic was on desktop. Last month, 60% of our traffic was on a mobile device or a tablet. So it's completely inverted, right? I just think that growing trend of mobile experiences is going to continue. And we need to be designing our brand new experiences to work on mobile and getting not just work on mobile will be mobile first, right are mobile native. I think that's a big emphasis that we're seeing people drive, we're also seeing a lot of brands go away from the app stores. So obviously, the App Store gives you a lot of benefit, because it puts your service in the app store for people to subscribe to you. But it also creates that cost friction in and giving up control the experience. And so we're seeing a lot of brands move away from the App Store, and move to hopefully hosted experiences and end the day customize that UI of just another area that we've seen.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  42:02  

Very interesting. Mobile for this group, the audience was 29%, which is third. Second was the increasing importance of personalized experiences. So going back to what we said earlier, yes, it is very top of mine, trying to understand that nobody had anything for the rise of voice and visual search.


Carl Nightingale  42:26  

Interesting, that didn't No one voted for the rise of visual. Nope. I don't know what to make of that. I think in the maybe in this space there. It's just not as top of mind or as others. But I think one thing that we are found in maybe not visual search, but visual imagery is really powerful and differentiating subscription businesses, and particularly eCommerce ones. So one of the things that we found, we did a lot of testing around what type of offer to present to a user. So do you include an image? Do you just make a copy? Do you have a big CTA, a small CTA all that. And far and away the best performing offers are the ones with the strongest imagery that invoke the brand. So if you're a brand that sells products that are very visually appealing, paying that extra bit for the photograph shoot of the products may go a long way and what you can do in driving loyalty across your brand. So I don't want to undermine the importance of visual experience, even though the visual search piece and voice search piece didn't bubble up here.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  43:31  

Great. And then 12% was increased focus on sustainability and ethical practices.


Carl Nightingale  43:38  

Yep, that's not surprising. I think we're seeing that kind of emerge as more and more mindshare, but it's not the top mindshare for folks. However, it's something that's important, right. And I think there's a whole new wave of subscribers coming online that will only subscribe to products that meet certain standards in that regard. And so that's gonna be table stakes to play, right. It's not it's no longer okay to, you know, make it a fake thing. You have to have corporate sustainability as part of your mission. It's just a matter of how big of a deal is that to your end customer. And it's gonna vary by product and industry a lot. But something to keep in


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  44:10  

mind. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome.


Carl Nightingale  44:14  

I think we also had one person writing in the channel on the loyalty program piece. And so I appreciate you responding and sharing your thoughts. It's been a struggle to try to drive loyalty at point of sale in the retail channel and driving brand loyalty across e-comm and subscription businesses in one time purchases is kind of the gist of that comment. And I think that's an area that folks are really playing with. If you provide both one time and subscription services, you have a lot more opportunity for loyalty programs, but it also creates a lot of complexity and how you manage those products and services and tie them together. And so that's an OP both an opportunity and can be a challenge operationally. And I think that's where some of the more operationally mature or, you know, sophisticated companies that have figured out how to leverage data to drive the right products across customer experience are going to stand out from the crowd.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  45:04  

And a great example to this company has seven brands. So in theory, should there be seven different retention programs per se? Or could you do that for the brand as a whole?


Carl Nightingale  45:18  

That's a great question. You know, unfortunately, the answer, like everything else in life is it depends a lot on how your company is set up. If those brands are under an umbrella that is recognizable, meaning they make sense to fit together, then yes, I think it makes sense to have them managed under one umbrella and then B, the ability to switch become between brands is a lot more or Endor bundle between brands is a lot more natural. If it's like acquired entities that don't really fit together, then it doesn't necessarily make sense, because there's going to require different strategies. The other thing is really ties gonna tie to the consumer of the product, right? What is the ideal customer profile for those different brands, and is there overlap there, if one brand is selling to, you know, 65 Plus, biathlon groups, and another one is selling to, you know, millennials and well app on supplements, areas or college, it might not make sense around the same retention strategy, because what works in one case is going to be completely different in the other case, but if you're selling like let's just say, for example, you're a news media company with a with a portfolio of newspapers, and online publications, it makes sense to run those under one hood, because they have similar strategies, similar user personas, and the overlap in terms of what you can do is is pretty much there between those brands. So bundling those strategies together actually adds a higher output in terms of the opportunity that you can give the customer. So I would say it depends, really on those two factors, like kind of the ICP overlap and the product and service overlap. But I do think the bundling strategy can work really well. And we're seeing that work really well in the space with several of our customers.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  46:59  

Interesting. Cool. Well, Carl, awesome, awesome information. Thank you all for sharing and doing the polls and bearing with us with the technical difficulties we got there, though, we get the information. And tell us more about the download and the free report. Yeah,


Carl Nightingale  47:15  

so we're gonna give us free access to the state of industry report for anyone who kind of joined today. This report covers everything, all the charts and data we talked about, but in a lot more depth with a lot more annotation around, you know, what the industry leaders are saying about the space and some opportunities to drive results. Notice is completely separate from the product. So it's just a piece of information out there. If you want to go check it out, we would love to see you download the report and dig in on the strategies further. And then always you're welcome to check out our products and services at Chargebee as well. But we'll keep it focused on the report for today.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  47:52  

Beautiful, thank you so much. Thank you all for joining. We definitely encourage follow up conversation with the Chargebee crew and then also BWG that's how we get the content ideas for future events. So always feel free to reach out to me Tiffany@bwgconnect.com And we can get some time on the calendar. Carl again. Thank you This was super fun, learned a lot validated a lot. So appreciate the time and the Intel to take care y'all have a lovely Thursday and flying into the weekend. Take care stay safe. Thanks

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