Customer Success in the Pandemic and Beyond - Ascent Conference

Customer Success in the Pandemic and Beyond

The global pandemic has affected businesses everywhere, with ripple effects impacting customer success and engagement. Industry leaders are forecasting that customer success will adapt at a groundbreaking pace as customer expectations change. It’s also a time that the SaaS industry continues to evolve at an exponential rate.

In SmartKarrot’s 2021 Global Customer Success Intelligence and Automation Survey Report, 84% of respondents say that customer success will shift from defense to offense in the next two years. Being on the offense implies that customer success will be more than just monitoring churn rates—it will have a heightened focus on customer retention strategies, customer value, and the emergence of new technology solutions for improving CS operations.

Why Customer Success is Crucial in Uncertain Times

Customer success took on a more crucial role in revenue growth since the crisis began. Pre-COVID, businesses had ample face-to-face opportunities to have touch-points with clients and help them through their buyer journey. Despite a small reopening, conferences, sales meetings, networking events continue to be on hold.

The landscape has changed, and digital is the norm. Competition is tighter, and companies have to rethink how to reach their customers, help them succeed, and lower their churn rates. 

How Customer Success has changed in the time of COVID:

1. Customers see who sticks with them during these challenging times

As the world grapples with the pandemic’s toll on their day-to-day lives, customers are now more discerning when choosing which brand to engage with. They are more inclined to interact with and give value to companies who proactively reach out to them as they grapple with the pandemic’s effects. 

Customers will notice which businesses would go the extra mile in helping them meet their needs, particularly at this time when cloud-based platforms are seeing rapid growth as work and other processes become increasingly virtual. 

2. Good experiences matter just as much as good results

You achieve customer success when customers get their desired outcomes after using your product or service. Another increasingly important metric is your customers’ overall experience in the process, which often dictates if they will be repeat buyers. 

Isaac Hammelburger, the founder of Search Pros, recommends maintaining good relations with repeat customers to build a solid consumer base. “The important part is to establish continuous communication with them, through promotional videos, posts, or even voting polls,” Hammelburger suggests. “The important part is that customers feel the presence of the company in their lives without having to market themselves.”

As you quantify your ROI, consider your customers who didn’t have a 100% positive experience with your service and recalibrate your marketing efforts to win them back.

3. No matter how much you avoid it, churn happens.

On a good day, your clients are happy with your service and end up being a part of your customer base for the long term. However, there may be times when customer attrition leaves you scratching your head and wondering which part of your customer engagement strategy is not working. 

But for Lincoln Murphy, co-author of Customer Success, simply asking a customer why they’re opting out of your service is not enough—it’s also about getting the specific answers you need to prevent more churn from happening. He encourages businesses to ask customers the following questions during or after an opt-out to gain a better understanding of their reasons:

  • “Why are you canceling your subscription?”
  • “Why did you choose not to renew your contract with us?”
  • “Why did you only buy one thing from us and never come back?”

While you may not always get a response from customers, it’s always worth it to try. Pay attention to what they have to say even after they’ve decided to cut ties with you—you may gather feedback from reviews, CSAT data, and net promoter score (NPS).

Customer Success Best Practices

Let’s revisit a few marketing basics that you can apply to your customer success strategy and help in relationship-building during these times.

  • Highlight your service’s unique value proposition. To retain customers, establish the value of what you’re offering them. How has your service helped them or their business solve their problems? You instantly have an advantage if your service is not only a nice-to-have but a must-have.
  • Offer flexible payment options. Customers directly affected by the pandemic may be on the brink of opting out of your service. Offer special discounts, an extension of free trials, or additional payment options with more flexible terms. These are proven tactics to increase customer retention and show clients that you care about keeping them on board for longer.
  • Build a community. People now spend more time online, and what better way to leverage this than by creating communities across various platforms? Encourage discussion on industry-related topics on website-based forums, or conduct periodic surveys for customer groups to check their experience with your service so far. Enable your customer success teams to have real-time conversations with clients to find out how you can further help them.

Customer Success: More Than Just a Buzzword

The SaaS business model is bound to fall apart without customer satisfaction, and the fact remains: customer success is a crucial metric for your SaaS business, whatever the time and season, whether there’s a pandemic or none. Investing in customer retention benefits both parties in the long run and effectively lets your brand maintain a strong relationship with clients that go beyond the numbers and monetary value.


Photo by Austin Distel via Unsplash.

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