SalesTechStar Interview with Sivaramakrishnan Iswaran, Global Head – Finance & Operations, Zoho Corporation
Sivaramakrishnan Iswaran, Global Head – Finance & Operations, Zoho Corporation shares a few top benefits about Zoho’s latest billing solution in this short catch-up with SalesTechStar:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Sivaramakrishnan, tell us about yourself and your role at Zoho Corporation…
As the Global Head of Zoho Finance and Operations Suite, I am responsible for building a competent team of product managers, marketers, designers, sales and support folks. I also play a big role in shaping our company’s fintech strategy.
My real passion is crafting scalable software solutions that solve business problems. During my tenure of more than two decades at Zoho, I’ve had the pleasure of bringing several innovative product ideas to life, launching multiple successful products and driving the growth strategy for the finance and operations suite.
We’d love to hear more about Zoho’s latest billing solution and how it enables end users?
Zoho Billing is a full-fledged billing solution that solves any level of billing complexity of growing businesses. It provides them with the flexibility they need to experiment with pricing and go to market with any changes, helping them stay ahead of their competitors.
Businesses can manage their product offerings with a scalable product catalog. On the billing side, they can also define what they want to charge; product, services, bundled, and usage, how they want to charge whether it is one-time or recurring, and when they want to charge; yearly, monthly, anniversary.
Zoho Billing also helps manage the entire lifecycle of their customers. Subscription-based businesses can offer trial, adopt the freemium model, and manage their customer’s journey from trial to conversion. Additionally, the application provides frictionless payment experience for end customers, and reduces involuntary churn with automatic handling of failed payments, helping them retain customers. Furthermore, businesses can customize their workflows, and automate recurring tasks, saving them loads of time.
Overall, this is a comprehensive solution that helps businesses focused on growth manage their billing operations end-to-end.
How can digital businesses improve their overall subscription experiences and journeys: what are some of the biggest flaws you’ve seen over the years in this regard?
Digital businesses must prioritize a few aspects when it comes to improving the overall subscription experiences and journeys of their customers. First, billing is one of the most important customer touch points. Offering a frictionless and transparent experience will significantly help improve customer satisfaction. But, typically, billing as a component is considered as an afterthought. This is one of the biggest flaws that I’ve seen over the years. Second, a lack of transparency and proper communication regarding the billing process can create frustration and break the customer’s trust. Therefore, businesses should prioritize providing them with timely updates about their billing cycles, upcoming invoices, along with a detailed invoice breaking down all the charges. Another important aspect is personalization. Providing personalized subscription offers, and special pricing can improve customer retention rates.
Lastly, one of the most important aspects that some businesses tend to overlook is offering convenience to their customers when it comes to making changes to their subscriptions. When this convenience is lacking, the customers will have to rely on the business to upgrade to a higher pricing plan, or worse, they will continue to pay for services that they no longer need until the business cancels for them. This is where a customer self-service portal will come in handy. They can view all their transactions, make payments, and also make changes to their subscriptions. Focusing on convenience will go a long way in enhancing the customer experience, resulting in lasting loyalty.
Can you highlight more about some of the easiest subscription and renewal experiences you’ve come across and what takeaways you’d highlight from those.
The best subscription and renewal experiences that I’ve seen are those that prioritize simplicity and convenience for customers. Let’s take a day-to-day example of buying groceries. We buy the same set of products regularly based on our needs. When marketplaces like Amazon introduced the ‘subscribe and save’ option, it was a game changer for both business owners and customers. Customers were able to automate their purchases by simply selecting the items they needed, specifying the frequency, and providing their payment information. In return, the business owners received assured sales and customer loyalty. This is one of the easiest and most innovative subscription and renewal experiences that I’ve come across.
A few thoughts on the impact of AI on the future of online billing and subscription models?
I expect a significant impact of AI on online billing and subscription models in the future. The latest technology, especially AI, is changing the way businesses handle their billing operations by providing intelligence in every layer.
One of the many ways in which AI can help is by detecting anomalies. Traditionally, businesses had to analyze data manually to identify trends and outliers, which was often time-consuming. As a result, it would be too late before businesses realize they are losing customers or experiencing revenue leakage. With AI, anomalies can be detected early on, along with the events that caused that anomaly. And, the root cause can be identified almost instantly, enabling business to fix the issue before it impacts their revenue.
Additionally, with predictive analytics driven by subscription metrics like Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) or Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), businesses can foresee challenges and take proactive measures. Businesses will be able to optimize their pricing strategy, and their customer engagement initiatives.
Furthermore, AI can personalize customer experience by offering tailored promotions based on their preferences and user behavior.
With 55+ apps in nearly every major business category, Zoho Corporation is one of the world’s most prolific technology companies. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with international headquarters in Chennai, India, Zoho is privately held and profitable with more than 15,000 employees. For more information, please visit: www.zoho.com/
Sivaramakrishnan Iswaran heads the Finance and Operations Suite at Zoho globally. Siva is passionate about building software that solves business problems. During his 24 years with Zoho, he has given life to several product ideas, launched multiple products and driven the growth strategy of each of these products. He has held several key positions in the company and is responsible for building a competent team of Product Managers, Marketers, Designers, Support and Sales people. He holds a Bachelors degree in Mathematics and Finance. If he is not at work, you can find him reading books on business, biographies, and growth hacking.
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