Coronavirus Impact on SaaS Customer Success (Survey Results)

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As a response to help companies mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Customer Success organizations around the globe. CSM Practice conducted a weekly survey to observe potential improvements in how the crisis impacted SaaS companies and customer success management teams. We have compiled the results of our 4-week survey. We generated an overall analysis of the pandemic effects on Customer Success from around the globe. Our COVID-19 survey also focused on uncovering SaaS companies’ plans for returning to working in the office.  Responses have given us insights that we believe will help any SaaS executive and Customer Success leader make better decisions. These results will help them plan the transition process for the “new normal” in an effective manner. We encourage you to explore the consolidated results of the survey to improve your understanding of business trends, to implement new customer retention strategies.

Covid19 Impact on Saas Customer Success

Key survey findings

The key findings arising from our survey results are as follows:

Customer Engagement

44% of companies had seen an uptick in customer engagement, whereas 37% indicated a lower customer engagement level. 

This shows that Customer Success teams and companies have been able to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. They were able to communicate efficiently with customers and the company. Building emotional ties by delivering a high-quality customer experience that results in customer loyalty despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Covid-19 SaaS Impact

Subscription Model

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the subscription model and payment offerings of SaaS companies. Customers are among the groups that are significantly affected by the global pandemic crisis, resulting in financial and personal difficulties that lead them to change their subscription model and payment offerings.

Renewals and Upsell Deals

60% reported a negative impact on customer retention and upsell deals due to the pandemic.

Over the last 4 weeks, the negative impact of COVID-19 on renewals and upsell deals continued to increase. Resulting in a decrease in its positive impacts. The outbreak of the pandemic created uncertainty for customers. This results in customer cancellations and market volatility, having an adverse impact on retention and expansion.

Sales and Retention Forecast

The sales and retention forecast for mid-May 2020 is 67%.

Most SaaS companies have not changed their sales forecast in terms of expansion and sales, retention of customers, and new deals for 2020. The COVID-19 crisis impacts customers and industries, but it can be resolved by working around and developing strategies to adapt to the impacts on sales and customer retention that will lead to new deals being back on track.

Sales and Customer Success

25% has had a positive impact on the conversion and upselling of new pipelines. 50% has no change in cross-selling in terms of the pandemic impact on sales and customer success.

Sales and Customer Success are negatively impacted by 56% in terms of new pipelines and conversion and upselling. There is mostly no change in customer onboarding and cross-selling. In view of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the global economy, new and current customers/clients who plan to invest or expand into new businesses are greatly affected. The Fear of uncertainty leads customers to keep their investments limited while the crisis hasn’t come to an end.

Customer Success Manager Career Impact

30% of customer success organizations planned to hire additional Customer Success Managers during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a great deal of workplace uncertainty, but some companies are still hiring manpower. Following in the midst of the crisis prospects, new growth windows are opening. They need to add new talents or fill important positions that will reinforce their lineup of manpower to confront what challenges to come.

Returning to Work at the Office: Level of Concern

In the first weeks of May 2020, the majority of customer success was not highly concerned about the prospects of returning to work from the office.

The majority of Customer Success employees are not highly concerned about returning to work in their respected workplace. Many are still concerned about their health and safety in going back to work in their offices. Acquiring  COVID-19 still poses a big risk to employees and creates fear of uncertainty of their health and safety.

SaaS Companies Return to Work Plans

39% of SaaS companies have already started making plans for returning to work in the office, mid-May 2020.

Customer Success Managers are still concerned about returning to the office. As a result, moving from home to the actual workplace has not yet been extended to 100%. Companies cannot jeopardize their workers’ health if they intend to return 100% of their employees to work in the actual workplace. 83% of Customer Success Managers expect to be back at work in the office sometime in June. The latest estimated date of return to work is September 2020 . Returning to work on the COVID-19 pandemic needs extensive planning and preparations must take place. It’s not just about getting ready to go back to full service, but also about the health and safety of staff and customers. Adapting to a new normal workplace would require a great deal of careful preparation for the effective introduction to a new culture and procedure that is consistent with the new normal workplace. During our review of the results of the last 4 weeks of the survey on the effects of COVID-19 on Customer Success Management, we have seen some different problems faced by survey respondents in today’s COVID-19 crisis.

Return to Work Best Practices amidst COVID19

  • Challenges in the distribution, installation, and maintenance of physical structures that are on the customer’s premises due to travel.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, social distancing and travel bans are implemented due to the rapid spread of the virus. As a safety precaution, Customer Success teams limit their physical contact with customers.

  • Customers churn like licensed reductions.

Customers reduced their purchase of licenses as part of the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Increased customer conferences on the web.

Customer Success teams are forced to work at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the use of web conferences as a means of communicating with clients and colleagues increased. This provides them less time to focus on work as they’re mostly on calls during their working hours. More COVID-19 Resources:

  • No new customers at all.

The economic crisis is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attracting new customers is difficult because they are still uncertain if the investment is bound to succeed.

  • Not meeting the client-expectations.

With limited resources and movements due to a lockdown meeting, client expectations are difficult because physical and social distances are to be observed. We can’t provide 100% of the service to clients virtually.

  • Customers would like to pause billing for a period of time.

Customers are financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis as a result companies are asking their resource companies to hold their bills until the effects of this pandemic have been lifted.

  • Budget cuts, heavy traffic, and a lot of retention efforts.

Companies cut budgets to minimize costs knowing that 100% of operating profit might be impacted by this crisis. Heavy retention efforts on the CS teams to prevent customers from churning.

  • SMB is coming in with less volume and capital which leads to a reduction/cancellation of some subscriptions up to July 2020.

As a precaution, due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a few SMBs have less volume and capital, therefore resulting in the reduction/cancellation of some subscriptions up to July 2020. 

Key Takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely had a huge impact on all of us. It impacts many aspects of our culture and our actions in the workplace. We have grown and managed to adapt to the situations and overcome the challenges we have encountered along the way. At CSM Practice, we invite you to view the results of the survey and to take advantage of this valuable data that can be used by your team in a useful and actionable way.

CSM practice encourages you to view the survey results and take advantage of this valuable data, which you can leverage in a useful and actionable way for your team:

SaaS & Customer Success COVID-19 Survey Results (Updated: May 11, 2020) from CSM Practice

Written By:
Irit Eizips

Irit is the Chief Customer Officer & CEO at CSM Practice, is a world-renowned expert on customer retention, upsells, cross-sells, and customer value strategies and methodologies. Since 2013, Irit has been pivotal in shaping Customer Success best practices. She has been nominated as a top Customer Success strategist and influencer, year after year, since 2013. Irit was recently named one of the Top 150 Global Customer Experience Thought Leaders and Influencers of 2020. She is frequently producing thought leadership on her youtube channel (CSM Practice) and is often featured as a speaker at conferences and Customer Success publications.