B2B companies feel the anxiety right now—we’ve heard talk of an impending recession, and we’re waiting for it to arrive so we can put into place all of the preparations we’ve gotten underway.
Of course, we can’t prepare for everything a recession will bring. For one thing, we can’t control how customers will react—the biggest fear of every B2B company right now is that when the downturn hits in full force, customers will jump ship en masse. Many will be cutting costs and solutions they think they can live without will be first on the chopping block.
It’s on us to show customers the value our solutions provide and that their path through this rocky terrain is better off with our solutions, rather than without them.
We should be showing our customers that we’re vital partners to their business well before the word “recession” even enters the conversation. When your customers look at their tech stack, your name should stand out as an absolutely uncuttable budget item–and everything your customer success organization is doing should be with the intention of being such a valuable partner that everyone on your customer’s team knows it.
Success teams should work closely with customers to make sure that adoption throughout their organization is high and that there’s a clear way to meaningfully track the impact of their solution on the customer’s ROI.
But there’s also a lot that can be done during a recession that could be the difference between receiving a cancellation email and forging a stronger, more successful relationship with a client. And much of that will fall to the customer experience (CX) team.
I’ve personally heard from many business owners and managers that the cost-cutting has begun. Since layoffs are usually a last resort for most teams, we know that many companies are looking at their contracts and solutions and seeing which ones they think they can live without for the time being.
That’s where CX comes in.
Let’s talk about the ways that customer experience teams can not only keep clients on board in the coming months, but help them thrive.
Develop a proactive engagement model
In those conversations I’ve had with colleagues, one thing that I’ve heard many times is that they had no idea the customer was dissatisfied or considering canceling the contract until it actually happened. This is not uncommon, so taking the initiative to proactively communicate when milestones are being met or showcasing the measurable benefits of your solutions as they happen will help immensely. This keeps your product synonymous in their minds with the goals they successfully achieve.
If you can position your product as strategically aligned with your customer’s mission, they’re far less likely to even consider discontinuing its use. If you don’t have the means of tracking and reporting the measurable results of the solution you provide—and sharing it with the customer in a format that they can directly attribute to their bottom line—getting those capabilities in place should be priority number one.
Empower your employees to invest in your customer’s success
If you’re looking to build a roster of customers that stick around and grow their accounts with your business, look at them in terms of long-term relationships rather than transactions.
Everyone will be reexamining their expenses in the coming months—don’t dangle potential cancellation fees over their head or spend time reminding them that they’re under contract for a certain period of time. That might scare a couple into staying put for the moment, but doing so will effectively guarantee an end date to that relationship sooner than later.
Instead, show that you’re in the same boat with them and that your company is invested in their success. Empower your CX team to switch on additional services for customers who need them at no cost. Even if it’s costing you very little (like just unlocking a section of the software the customer doesn’t currently have in their contract), it will mean a lot to them, strengthening your working relationship well into the future.
And hopefully, it will provide that customer with an edge in keeping their business going strong, reducing the chance they will need to cut additional costs down the road.
Create a culture of empathy
When times get tough, it becomes clear which teams are building a culture rooted in empathy and proactive customer service. Your customers are going to need more support, and when you actively cultivate a team that watches for opportunities to go the extra mile to create a remarkable customer experience, the foundations you’ve built for your customers will become even more valuable.
Recessions are difficult for everyone. Your customers are likely going to have a tough go of it; they could be making very difficult decisions, revising growth estimates, and maybe even retooling the way they work. That is the exact time when solution providers can step up and double down on their customers, taking care of them as best they can while remaining empathetic to any difficult decisions they have to make.
Make sure they know that their success is your success, and you’re in their corner to help them get through this difficult road ahead. Don’t just say that, either: walk the walk, giving them whatever they may need to succeed, from extra features to additional support and training hours.
When you make this kind of mindset part of your company culture, it doesn’t just stay within the ranks of your hands-on users and points of contact. That kind of dedication and genuine appreciation for your customers reflects in the metrics and results they see, and that travels straight to your c-level executives. Hard decisions get made by people who may not have day-to-day interactions with your team, so you have to go above and beyond to make sure your customers are getting what they need, from the top down.
The upcoming recession won’t be a surprise to anyone when it arrives; many companies are already taking precautionary measures and trimming costs in anticipation. If your solution is still on your customer’s books, it’s because they see the value you can provide in bringing in more revenue and meeting their goals—make sure your CX team goes the extra mile to show them that we’re all in this together.