COVID-19 has done a number on businesses in every industry, grinding some to a halt while sending others into surprise periods of rapid growth as customer needs and buying patterns have changed overnight — and continue to evolve as the pandemic progresses. But even in the most “normal” of times, every business deals with both busy seasons and lulls, some expected and others not.

What helps businesses make the most of the peaks and weather the valleys? The key, in large part, is having billing systems in place that promote agility, empower scale (up or down), and enable businesses to adjust both their capacity and their offerings on demand.

While many homegrown or legacy billing systems are designed to meet standard capacity gracefully and efficiently, they don’t fare quite as well when asked to scale up or down. Scaling up often leads to logjams as the system tries to process higher volumes of users and usage events than it’s built to handle; scaling down, on the other hand, leads to businesses paying for capacity they aren’t using while the system balks at efforts to adjust offerings to customers’ current needs.

Cloud-based, agile billing systems, on the other hand, are designed to expand and contract at a moment’s notice, empowering businesses to flow with the market whether they’re looking at steady growth, unplanned dips, or seasonal changes in demand.

Cloud-Based Billing Provides Much-Needed Elasticity

The biggest advantage to cloud-based platforms is their ability to adjust to changing usage volumes. Traditional billing platforms usually require businesses to pay for a certain amount of fixed capacity, whether they’re using all of it or not. That means that, when usage climbs above current capacity, companies have to scramble to purchase and install new hardware, and when it declines, they find themselves letting expensive equipment go unused.

But cloud-based billing platforms offer elastic scalability, meaning it’s easy to add or remove capacity quickly based on demand. While fixed capacity which can be cost prohibitive, elasticity is a marginal cost. This means there’s no boundary to upper growth, but it also means customers never have to pay for unused capacity when usage dips. So, when resources are at their most scarce, businesses aren’t wasting a dime on unnecessary billing volume.

Scaling Up to Support Growth

When it comes to scaling up, whether you’re a B2C business gearing up for the holiday season, you’re expanding into new markets or COVID-19 has sent you into hypergrowth, that expanded capacity may be the foundation for growth, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.

Gearing up to grow, whether you’ve got time to prepare in advance or you’re “building the plane as you fly,” calls for heightened transparency to monitor and manage additional usage events. It requires the ability to add new products and services to your catalog quickly, handle complex payment requirements and maybe even process payments in multiple languages and currencies, depending on whether you’re growing within existing markets or adding new ones.

While a legacy system may support the usual volume of usage events in the usual markets, the usual language and the usual currency, reconfiguring it to handle additional complexity — from new markets or new billing models — is likely to take significant time and requires a billing specialist, leading to lag times, errors, and business interruptions.

Capitalizing on growth requires companies to move fast, and with a legacy billing system holding them back, they’re liable to find themselves behind the curve again by the time get caught up. But a cloud-based billing platform built for agility provides just the foundation they need to achieve seamless, rapid scale.

Scaling Back in Slower Seasons

Scale is just as important when business is slower, whether it’s due to the usual lull during the summer months or the result of an unexpected natural disaster. The first step is leveraging that elasticity to reduce capacity and shore up unnecessary costs, but that’s just the start.

When business slows down, just trying to ride it out isn’t an effective strategy. Instead, companies need to find ways to meet their customers where they are, offering product and service variations that provide the value they need and incentivizing them to try or buy through the slump. This may include providing new product and service options that lower the barrier to entry and/or fill a void by providing something customers can’t get elsewhere (think: restaurants selling flour, eggs, and toilet paper during COVID-19 to support customers who can’t find the staples on grocery shelves and replace some of the lost dine-in revenue). It may include discounts on individual offerings or new bundles, and it may include time- or event-based triggers such as sending automated promotional emails offering free shipping to customers who’ve browsed or added items to their shopping carts but haven’t made a purchase.

In short, scaling down means much more than slowing down, and it requires the same agility, creativity, and flexibility as scaling up. Here again, agile, cloud-based billing platforms enable companies to make the changes they need to make in order to weather the dip in demand and come out on the other side, ready to grow.

Is your business equipped to handle the inevitable peaks and valleys in demand? Gotransverse is experienced in helping our clients prepare for scale — up or down, planned or unplanned — and we’d love to talk about whether our platform is the right fit for your organization. We invite you to take a tour of our platform today, and then call us to schedule your complimentary, personalized demo.