How to Prove Your Product’s Value and Retain Customers During a Recession

Rachel Skroback
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September 22, 2022
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5 minutes

In an economic downturn or recession, customer retention is what keeps your business’ motor running. With acquisition costs far exceeding retention costs, it’s clear that keeping your customers around is the more cost-effective way to remain afloat even during tough times. Yet at the same time, during a recession is also when it’s the hardest to keep a customer as they look to cut costs, especially in their tech stack. 

The most important aspect of customer retention is proving to your customers that your product is essential to their business. In order to do this, you must build trust and help provide clear visibility into the insights your customers care about most. Is your product helping them work toward their goals and objectives? Has it changed the way your customers operate on a daily basis for the better? If so, now is the time to show the value of your product, and make it clear that it is critical to their success.

According to Productboard, “Product value is the benefit that a customer gets by using a product to satisfy their needs, minus associated costs.” Ultimately, in order for your customer to consider your product to be business-critical, the benefits of using your product must largely outweigh the cost. And in an economic downturn, the difference between benefits and cost needs to be huge. Here are some of the steps for proving product value, even during a recession. 

Figure out what the customer is trying to achieve and what has changed in their world

Aligning with your customer’s objectives is always an essential step toward proving product value, but in a recession, it’s likely that your customers’ goals and objectives will change significantly. What they told you was their highest priority when they started using your product may not be the same now. Their organization may have to make shifts to stay afloat and do more with less—whether that’s a budget cut, downsized workforce, or a mission to seek out more efficient processes. When you’re working to reinforce the value of your product during times like these, it’s vital to touch base regularly, bring in a human element to your conversations, and be willing to pivot to serve them better.

Keep in mind that your customers are in the midst of this economic downturn with you. They’re relying on you to bring them sage advice, product usage suggestions, and support. Whether you’re personalizing a presentation for a specific customer, building rapport through regular check-ins, or simply taking the time to chat about their biggest pain points and what makes them tick, these in-depth conversations can be the difference between renewal and churn. By becoming familiar with their goals and concerns, you can have a better understanding of how to move forward.  

Dive into the data to show how you're helping them

Data is essential for proving product value—it provides clear insight into the factors that are at the top of your customer’s mind when evaluating their tech stacks. A proactive customer success team member should know what matters most to each customer and should be able to bring concrete data points to the table not only during the renewal period, but throughout the customer lifecycle. Here are some data points to consider presenting to your customers:

  • Product usage statistics
  • Growth and progress toward previously specified goals
  • Benchmarking insights / competitive comparisons
  • ROI, like time and money savings

Every customer is different, so make sure to always bring it back to their business objectives. Consider—and make an effort to learn more about—what matters the most to them, then deliver data that proves it. By strategically providing the right data at the right times throughout the customer journey, you can continue to build trust, reinforce the value of your product, and sustain a fruitful partnership. 

Use multiple touch points to share the data and build the story

While it’s always important to connect with your customers early and often, it’s especially important during an economic downturn or recession. Not only do your customers need to know how to get the most out of your product, but they should be reminded that your product is critical for their business success. In order to do this, you need to show (not tell) your customers why your product is a must-have well before the renewal period. Whether you’re providing an ROI estimate, benchmarking data, a monthly health check, or a QBR, this data needs to be comprehensive yet digestible enough to drive home the value of your product at a glance.

Think about it: Which is easier to understand—a bunch of obscure data being thrown at you during a meeting, or a clear data visualization that you can review during and after the presentation and share with colleagues? Typically, the latter is the preferred method, and it’s likely true for your customers as well. 

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed presentation, chart, or graph when discussing data insights with your customers. Not only does this make the value of your product easier to digest, but it also enables your clients to revisit and share these insights with key stakeholders. Plus, it shows that you went above and beyond to provide a personalized, useful presentation for your customers, and this level of consideration can go a long way. Be willing to provide these insights proactively throughout the customer lifecycle to build trust and sustain your partnership.

Always be iterating

As previously mentioned, customer success teams must be ready and willing to pivot and iterate on processes. What worked for one customer may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for other customers, and what worked last year may not have the same effect now. To remain successful through challenging times, teams need to come together to find solutions to new problems, and everyone must be willing to make changes with their customer’s best interest in mind. By being receptive to the customer’s needs, you’ll be able to further prove the value of your product and set yourself apart from the competition.

To find out what your team needs to adjust to be a more effective customer success operation, make sure you’re collecting feedback from employees and customers. Whether you ask a few quick questions at the end of a meeting, send out a survey, or request reviews and testimonials, this input from customers will be invaluable. 

Additionally, it’s important to consider new tools and solutions that can improve your workflow, save time and resources for your team, and ultimately make life easier. Cut down on busywork and tedious processes so your team can shift their focus from menial tasks to what matters most—building relationships with customers.

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