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Zuora CEO: To Win Customers, Focus on Service, Not Just Product

Think about the last time you used a subscription service. Maybe Netflix, Amazon, or Dollar Shave Club come to mind. (Maybe Fortune magazine does, too.) For the best such companies, a customer’s experience is centered around service, rather than a given product. It’s not just what you’re getting; it’s when and how you’re getting it.

Call it the subscription economy—a term coined by Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, a company that makes software to help other companies create subscription business models. “The subscription economy is the idea that we have to buy less and less stuff to meet our needs,” says Tzuo.

There are other benefits. Subscription services keep customers more engaged over the long term, the executive says, and generate steady cash flow. The model shifts the focus away from products and toward service—that is, solving a customer’s problems.

“Ask yourself: How does your product or service make a difference?” Tzuo asks. “Every employee needs to have an answer to that.”

Zuora tries to practice internally what it preaches externally, Tzuo says. “We still have a lot of work ahead as we try to create a new concept in the subscription economy,” he says, “so we need employees who are signing up for that mission.”

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Tzuo.

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