Customer Success During Economic Crisis
Updated: Jun 27
If you’re not at least slightly concerned about the implications the coronavirus crisis has on the economy, you haven’t been glued to a news outlet.
In just a span of a week, airlines have had to introduce temporary cancellation policies, one airline–unfortunately, went bankrupt––events have been cancelled and while oil might become cheaper, it serves as a foreshadow for an economic slowdown.
And during this time, it’s incredibly important to demonstrate our loyalty and solidarity with our customers. How can we help them in any way we can and where do we sit during a time like this?
Hey everyone👋, In this post, I’ll be recapping a webinar hosted by Jason Whitehead from Tri Tuns joined by a panel of incredibly knowledgeable Customer Success Leaders. They discuss how Customer Success teams can take action now to help their Customer’s brace for impact.
Instead of giving you only three takeaways, I’m opting for shorter points.
Let’s dive in.
Be transparent about what’s happening at your company
As a company, we should be vocal with our customers about the measures we are taking within our organization. We may be going down two different paths:
There’s a plan in place to ensure there’s no service interruption.
Product/service may not run at 100%.
The message we want to make clear with our customers is that during this time, we’re taking measures to keep our team safe. We are still operational and it’s business as usual/or here’s what changed. Regardless, they can still depend on you.
Can your tool help during this time?
We should also be thinking about ways that our product/service can help during this emergency. Some examples:
temporary access for free? (i.e., Google offering G-Suite enterprises to schools/business for free)
Changes to policy (i.e., airlines introduce fee waivers)
These examples are great for larger corporations but for smaller SaaS startup, making time to brainstorm the impact we can have during this time is important.
What about renewals?
If renewal conversations are happening as we speak, be empathetic! We all need to understand that with the impact of this virus, you don’t want to jump into financial conversations right away. Make space on these calls to address the elephant in the room.
When it comes to renewals with smaller customers, it’s a great time to acknowledge what’s happening (address COVID-19) and if your company can accommodate, make it clear that their recovery is more important than the next two months of revenue. They’ll appreciate the loyalty 😉
Lastly, another idea that came up around renewals, was trying to negotiate multi-year contracts by providing access to the next plan up (this is mainly applicable to SaaS), for the price of the lower-tier plan.
*Plus points: If your company can provide extra value during this time, it may set you up for renewal.
Collecting customer feedback
What can the Customer Success team do to help with aligning their organization?
Be the eyes and ears of what’s actually happening with the customer base.
Success and other customer-facing teams will continue to have conversations with customers. These are data points to bring back to the rest of the organization. The job of Success is to collect this feedback and then translate it into the language of other teams so that their areas of expertise can understand.
Success will also be exposed to new use cases. This may translate into a quick build or the development of new resources. The responsibility isn’t just on the Success team, it’s on the entire company.
So when should we collect this feedback? QBRs, check-ins, etc.? Answer: on any of these calls. Find out what’s worked across all your different companies, how are customers functioning, is everything working as they expect with your tool?
This can help you segment your users and from there you and your team can figure out what the next steps are.
Document everything now!
What have we learned during this crisis and how can we prepare ourselves if this happens again? Ultimately, we need to prepare for the next time around and the best way to do that is to build an emergency playbook. To do this, evaluate the segments created, the actions taken and the impact it’s had on the customers.
Lastly, how do you capitalize on your actions/initiatives during this time?
There may be some good that comes out of this. While you’re in build the plan while it’s flying mode, identify what are aspects that you want to maintain in your future way of engaging with customers.
For example, start by building many too many relationships instead of just depending on one to one. One to one relationships are fragile and the last time we’ve had natural disasters, one the panelists adds, it had a big impact on some of their customer’s business.
It’s critical to establish these relationships and reinforcing learnings/resources all the way through (meaning, with other people at the company, not just your main point of contact).
Down the road, the actions you take during this time can turn into strong relationships with your partners and customer advocacy stories.
Jason also runs Tri Tuns, a consulting firm focused on accelerating user adoption and customer success. He has plenty of resources (including free resources) so check it out!