It’s no secret that it’s a lot easier — and cheaper — to retain a customer than it is to go and out and find a new one, particularly during challenging economic times like these. When sales are uncertain, one of the best things you can do to help your business is to give your existing customers some extra attention. That’s because doing so can not only go a long way toward helping retain them, but also lead to a variety of upsell and cross-sell opportunities. In this post, we’re looking at five tips that you might consider implementing to help keep your customers happy and eager to grow their relationship with you, even during a pandemic.

1. Launch new features every quarter

While your product is important to your customers — they wouldn’t be paying for it if it weren’t —  the unspoken social contract with SaaS customers is that they expect ongoing innovation and support. By launching new features every quarter, and communicating them effectively, you’re reminding them about the value you’re providing and your commitment to helping make their lives easier. Release new features regularly and make sure that you find creative ways to educate your customers about how to use them effectively. 

2. Appoint customer success managers

Automation in customer success and support is inevitable, but make sure to use it as a way to improve the customer experience, not to eliminate human interaction or reduce headcount. In other words, technology should augment customer service, not replace it. 

To be clear, there are times when automation is entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, your customers should be able to contact an actual person for help when they need it. A customer success manager can give them the attention they need, helping to ensure that their problems get resolved quickly and expeditiously, so that they don’t become overly frustrated or feel like they need to look for another vendor. While this costs money, the customer retention and referrals it leads to should more than pay for this kind of support.

3. Don’t raise prices to make up for a shortfall

When growth slows down, you might be tempted to raise prices to make up the shortfall. And while that might solve your problems in the short run, long term, unexpected price increases — particularly during an economic downturn — will likely upset your existing customers.

If you want to create more revenue from your existing customer base, take a different approach. Instead of jacking up the price that customers are already paying, launch a new version of your product with more features and a higher price. If the new features enhance your product in a meaningful way, your customers may decide to upgrade on their own, thus increasing your revenue.

4. Let customers downgrade if they need to

Your early customers took the most risk when they started using your product, so it’s important to look after them for the long term. A recession isn’t the time to play hard ball. If your customers are under stress themselves, then let them downgrade to a cheaper version of your product if they need to. In all likelihood, they will upgrade again when things are better, and will appreciate that you’re acting as a true partner, and not just a vendor, by helping them out when they need it the most.

5. Offer pilots and flexible payments

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were making a big investment, you’d want to take a product for a test drive before buying it. Even if an existing customer is already familiar with your other products, offering a pilot is a sign of good will and one that demonstrates your own confidence in your offering.

Being more customer-centric is also about letting people buy what they want, and how they want to buy it. Let them pay monthly, weekly, or annually for your product, or offer hybrid versions where they can select some features that they’ll use for a reduced price. This kind of flexibility goes a long way toward building stable, long-term relationships with customers.

Customer-centric strategies are the key to success

Becoming more customer-centric is critical for the success of any business. By giving your customers the attention and care that they need — both in good times and bad — you can develop deep relationships that last for the long haul.