In recent years, consumer demands for transparency, flexibility, and world-class customer experiences had transformed the way businesses approach billing and revenue models. From pairing recurring revenue models with usage-based add-ons – to creating frictionless, automated billing processes that ensured transparency, speed, and accuracy – savvy businesses have begun looking at billing as a key opportunity to both maximize revenue and enhance the customer experience.

As the world all but came to a halt with COVID-19, the pace of innovation sped up. Customers still wanted transparency, flexibility, and a great customer experience. However, they now wanted to buy almost exclusively online. They wanted the utmost convenience as their home and work lives merged into one. And, as the economy grew precarious, they had an eagle eye on value as well.

Even as we emerge from the pandemic, those "trends" show no sign of going away. Instead, the customer demands that accelerated digital transformation over the last year and a half are poised to shape the future of billing service models as the pace of innovation continues to climb.

Here are five new realities for billing in the age of innovation:

Customers Will Continue Prioritizing Value & Flexibility

There were already signs of subscription fatigue showing before the pandemic as customers had started to take a close look at how much they were spending on streaming services, subscription boxes, etc., compared to how much they were using. But when COVID-19 threatened many consumers' finances, value became the keyword. Customers, watching their cash, became reluctant to pay for subscriptions that included features they didn't need, wanting instead to pay for only what they would need and use.

But did that mean businesses had to revert to one-off sales and give up their recurring revenue? Not at all. Instead, savvy companies’ future-proofed their revenue with usage-based, consumption, or pay-as-you-go pricing models that combined the best of both worlds; giving the business the security of recurring revenue (such as basic subscriptions with plenty of opportunities for growth on top) while allowing customers to pay for only what they use.

Even as the economy begins to restabilize, consumers and businesses alike will continue to benefit from these hybrid models, which give consumers the assurance that they’re getting value for their money—and the flexibility to change their spending as their needs evolve.

Flexibility Will Be Key for Businesses, As Well

As important as flexibility has become to consumers, it's even more so for businesses. The ability to change billing models, update pricing, add new products or services, and repackage existing ones into more valuable offerings is critical to staying ahead of the competition and providing customers with what they want when they want it.

When COVID-19 hit, like any major disruption, it led to rapid change in customer needs. Businesses that had already adopted modern platforms and infrastructure were at an advantage, as speed and agility were already second nature. Therefore, they were able to pivot their billing models to meet customers’ changing needs. Others that were still relying on legacy systems or manual billing practices, struggled to keep up.

Billing Will Be Integrated with Other Key Systems

Billing is no longer relegated to the finance department. Rather, billing systems must pull data on customers, service usage, and more from other systems within the organization. So it’s important that all these systems “play well together,” ensuring streamlined workflows and accurate data with no gaps or redundancies.

In reevaluating their systems to better support customers, forward-thinking businesses are embracing cloud-based billing for increased integration capabilities — along with other benefits such as flexibility, growth capacity, and cost savings.

Marketplaces Will Grow in Popularity

While marketplaces are nothing new in and of themselves, the popularity of these online retail platforms that act as storefronts for multiple businesses has grown significantly in the wake of COVID-19. From home goods to technology and beyond, marketplaces allow brands to leverage these platforms to find new customers. Plus, they have been especially advantageous to small and midsized businesses looking for new ways to attract customers and bring in revenue.

We’ll see these continue to grow, especially in the technology world, as communications services providers partner with other technology providers, devices, and services to drive innovation and bring the full value of 5G to consumers.

The challenge, however, is how to implement frictionless marketplace billing that ensures every seller gets paid promptly. While it is sometimes possible to reconfigure or modify outdated systems to handle complex transactions like marketplace settlements, this approach is rarely efficient, cost-effective, or successful in the long term. Rather, savvy marketplaces are turning to agile billing platforms that are built to meet their needs.

Transparency Will Reign Supreme

The need for transparency around invoices is nothing new. Customers want to understand exactly what they’re paying for and how much they’re paying. But as demands have grown and business models have become more complex, transparency has become a critical component of every step of the quote-to-cash process. From ensuring contract terms are translated accurately to fulfillment to making sure usage events are rated and mediated properly to giving both account managers and customers real-time insights into usage levels and costs, transparency empowers streamlined internal processes and ensures successful customer experiences.

But growing demand for self-service billing capabilities has put additional pressure on companies to create fully transparent workflows. In a recent article for Forbes, Gotransverse founder and CEO James Messer wrote about this rising demand. Customers want complete control over their transactions, and self-service technology, he says, is seeing a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 percent. And yet, achieving this level of access is easier said than done. It requires full transparency from all the systems and workflows driving business processes, from the initial quote to the final payment recognition, providing both employees and customers with all the information they need.

These trends picked up speed during the pandemic, but they aren't going away anytime soon. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve must adopt sophisticated billing management systems that will empower flexibility, transparency, and growth. For many businesses, this is unfamiliar or uncharted territory. As these trends continue to accelerate, the right platform will no longer be a convenience — it will be a must-have for companies that want to retain customers and meet their growth projections. The Gotransverse platform is designed to do all that and more.

To learn more, we invite you to take a virtual tour today. If you like what you see, request a demo to talk with one of our experts about whether Gotransverse is the right billing platform for your organization.