The COVID-19 pandemic has engendered drastic changes in business growth and productivity. For some companies, business has slowed to a crawl. Others have maintained steady — or steady enough — business. But for some companies, the onset of the pandemic spurred rapid, exponential growth.

Amazon’s and Walmart’s sales have both skyrocketed so dramatically that, according to Vox, the organizations are hiring a combined 250,000 new employees. Grocery stores’ delivery and curbside pickup services, recently nice-to-haves, have become essential as shoppers have avoided entering stores. (And here in Texas, we’ve watched as Favor, a delivery company owned by H-E-B, launched in 75 new statewide markets within one week to better serve customers — especially seniors — through on-demand restaurant and grocery delivery.)

Video conferencing services are booming as every work meeting moves online along with family game nights, happy hours and even bridal showers. For example, despite security concerns, Zoom has grown to 300 million daily meeting participants, from 10 million as recently as December.

And while all this growth is phenomenal — a sign that both consumers and businesses are adapting to provide continued service and support during this unprecedented time — it hasn’t been without growing pains. When we order just about anything online these days, we get an email pleading for patience as fulfillment times are likely to be delayed by several days, if not weeks. And placing a grocery order from Whole Foods or anywhere else can be a multi-day event as we refresh the page, waiting for new pickup or delivery times to open up.

So, what’s stopping these companies and others from serving customers with the same efficiency and consistency as they were before the pandemic? While there are certainly supply chain issues at play for companies like grocery stores, the biggest roadblock is an organization’s preparedness to scale.

There are the questions of hiring workers, increasing hours and stocking goods or developing services strategically to meet demands. But what about the software infrastructure to handle dramatic increases in customer volume and usage events? Billing transactions in new markets? New pricing structures and billing models that more effectively serve customers’ needs?

One Key to Minimizing Friction in Hypergrowth Is Agile Billing

At a systems-and-processes level, what’s holding many companies back from effective growth are outdated systems that resist change, balking at increased volume or shying away from complex usage-based billing models.

For example, Ytel is a cloud communications platform that was having trouble (before COVID-19) to meet growing billing needs as they supported a rapidly growing customer base who bought and paid for services through a wide variety of “packages,” including simple subscriptions, prepaid accounts, volume-based packages and more. Their internally developed billing system couldn’t keep pace, though, and they found themselves leaking revenue, inadvertently giving away services with no charge. But by implementing Gotransverse’s cloud-based agile billing platform, Ytel was able to shore up its financial systems to support its growth, automating billing with unprecedented accuracy, streamlining billing management, rolling out new revenue models and more — all without any custom coding, lag time or interruption to the customer experience.

(Learn more about how Gotransverse empowered Ytel’s rapid growth in our case study.)

To Support Hypergrowth, Lose the Hardware

One serious impediment to business growth at any level can be capacity. Does your hardware-based legacy billing system support your current customer volume? Great, but what if that volume begins to multiply tomorrow? You’d have to add additional hardware to meet capacity, which requires significant lead times that can make it difficult to keep up with growth. But what’s more, scaling a hardware-based system means adding fixed capacity — meaning you have to add enough capacity to handle peak load even if your systems will rarely be operating at that level. In other words, you’re paying for space you aren’t using. This requirement can be a significant hinderance to growth, especially for businesses that may not have the cash to pay for once-in-a-while usage volumes.

With agile billing, however, what you get is elastic scalability that’s designed to fluctuate based on usage volume. Because platforms like Gotransverse’s are cloud-based, their capacity can be adjusted as necessary, and very quickly, to match the peaks and valleys in usage. In other words, at any given moment, you’re only paying for what you use, and yet your system supports nearly limitless volume.

(Learn more about how agile billing supports volume growth in our recent blog post.)

Usage-Based Billing Models Help Give Clients What They Need, When They Need It

Finally, while legacy systems are generally effective with basic billing models like one-off purchases and simple subscriptions, savvy businesses are offering customers more ways to buy, combining subscription and one-off offerings with usage-based offerings that allow customers to pay for exactly what they need, when they need it.

(Learn about different usage-based billing models in our free infographic.)

Even before COVID-19 hit, usage-based pricing was seeing substantial growth, with Forrester finding that 72 percent of businesses not yet using usage-based models planned to within two years. And now, with both B2B and B2C companies seeing customers’ using goods and services differently than they did before the pandemic (and likely differently than they will after), it’s more important than ever offer them flexibility in how they buy. After all, if customers feel like they’re paying for services they aren’t using right now, they’re liable to pull the plug altogether. But if they can pay for only what they need, swapping out one service for another or pulling back one month and ramping back up the next, then they’re more likely to remain loyal, sticking with their chosen vendors through this difficult time.

Significant business growth — whether planned or surprise — is an exciting achievement for any company. But scale works best when it’s built on systems designed to support it. Without the right systems in place, the growing pains can become unmanageable. To learn how Gotransverse prepares our clients for growth, we invite you to tour our platform and schedule your personalized demo today.