Connecterra is an AI company using machine learning and data to empower farmers. Their Intelligent Dairy Assistant (Ida) uses microchips on collars attached to cows to track their movements and pick up on changes in activity. These changes can indicate when the cows might be unwell, how often they’re eating or even when they’re at their most fertile. By tracking trends and acting on alerts, farmers are able to use their time more efficiently and make more informed decisions. The innovative tech is being used in over 80 farms already, mainly in Europe and the USA.
Automation is in Connecterra’s DNA. But their manual contract and invoicing processes were letting them down.
Contracts with the farmers depend on the number of cows they have and so, are very changeable. But Connecterra’s contracts and invoice systems didn’t talk to each other, making it a laborious process to make regular changes.
Their unique invoicing setup, involving an upfront fee followed by a monthly payment that begins once the collars have been attached, was heavily reliant on communication between field technicians and the finance team, sometimes across international lines. This process was prone to human error.
“It was easy for mistakes to happen,” says Stacey Hobson, Connecterra customer support specialist. “Sometimes, understandably, the field technicians would forget to tell the finance team the deployment had taken place until much later.”
This resulted in confusion for both the team and their customers, who couldn’t predict when invoices would be received.
So Connecterra set about looking for a system that improved the efficiency and predictability of their invoicing and contracting. They wanted to find a service that:
That’s when they found Subscription25. “We don’t make mistakes anymore,” says Stacey.
Because Subscription25 is a native Salesforce app, all finance, sales and customer service information is available in a single customer view. No more crossed wires or confusion between farmers and sales or customer experience agents. Additionally, Connecterra uses external resellers, who can input leads they are working on, giving greater visibility of prospective sales.
Being native to Salesforce also opens up the opportunity for more tailored automation.
“Subscription25 were great during setup, customising to our unique environment of products and invoicing.
They added a bespoke deployment module where field technicians fill in the information and it automatically sends an alert to issue the invoice.
Subscription25 syncs to Connecterra’s finance systems. The custom module means that farmers are invoiced without delay and put on a regular monthly payment that they know is coming. This gives busy farmers reassurance that they won’t be hit by larger bills and awards Connecterra the peace of mind that “things will just work automatically”.
It also means that invoice renewals and cancellations are automatically processed with no need to chase up late payments or manually adjust direct debits. Trial periods and advanced discounting can also be added with ease.
Ease is something that was essential for Connecterra, because not everyone using the system is a finance native. Admitting that she herself is not, Stacey says that a huge benefit to her is that Subscription25 is so simple to use. “I’ve managed just fine,” she laughs.
It comes down to the simplification of processes that are often made more complicated than they need to be. Setting up a recurring payment, for example, is as simple as selecting the product, the terms and the duration; and changing the invoicing period is as easy as inputting a new date.
“We can automatically extend the contract,” she adds, “which many other providers weren’t able to do - you’d have to set up a whole new contract.”
Simplifying the contracting and invoicing process means that Connecterra have more time to focus on improvements to their unique business.
Just like their farmer clients, Connecterra can now utilise analytics to become more efficient. With Subscription25 they can see key information at a glance, such as how much they have invoiced over a period of time or how clients’ profitability compares. They can use the insights to get a clear picture of their finances, identify opportunities and manage their money better.
It’s an arrangement that very well suits this company of machine learning and data analysts, who know only too well the benefits of automation as they empower farmers in their quest to feed the world.