SaaS strategies in times of crisis
Crisis hits different industries in different ways: oftentimes there are some that are more affected than others. Rarely is there an industry that stays stable and even experiences opportunity through a drastically changing world. SaaS is as close as it gets. The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenge and chance for companies to assess SaaS strategies in times of crisis for their teams and their customers. The impact exceptional crisis management can have on loyalty and trust to your company from both customers and employees.
SaaS is in an even more interesting position during the crisis, especially like the pandemic we are currently experiencing. SaaS companies have not had to shutter doors, often are great at working from home, and can continue to support many businesses through a crisis unlike many other industries.
SaaS companies have an opportunity to step and be model companies as well as support their customers for stronger relationships in the future. We’ve seen many examples of this during the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are some successful SaaS strategies in times of crisis:
Address any issues head on and with transparency:
A mistake companies were accused of making during this crisis, and many others before, is that they were out of touch. When companies pretend as if nothing is happening and continue business as usual it’s an off-putting tone. During a crisis, many people may be suffering physically, emotionally, and financially. Companies need to show empathy because, at the end of the day, sales and marketing will always be rooted in human connection. Gaining connection and trust with customers and employees will always be more valuable in the long run instead of pushing to get some quick sales. Companies should stop communications as usual and address the crisis or problem head on with their users and employees with a personal, empathetic tone. Having upper management involved in delivering key messages gives that personal connection that companies need to demonstrate. If your company is going to face setbacks or need to make changes to service, it is best to be transparent and include plans for returning to normal in the future as well. Being honest but also including reassurance is vital.
Offer financial relief to customers:
If your company is in the position to do so, nothing says ‘we care about our customers’ like providing support in a big way. Many companies during the COVID-19 crisis either offered relief from fees for a period of time or offered free services for customers. With crisis usually comes loss of profits for other industries. Oftentimes SaaS companies are turned to for additional technical, marketing, and sales support for other companies to stay on their feet. For example, companies increased reliance on task management, video chat, and sales and marketing tools during the crisis to support work from home efforts and online-only business. SaaS is in a position to succeed. It sends a strong, empathetic message when a company who is thriving off a crisis offers financial support to those who are not and it is rarely forgotten after all returns to normal. Some examples may be offering to defer payment to a later date, offer months of service free, offer premium service for free for a period of time, or give credit to businesses and teams affected by the crisis.
Offer support for new customers:
As mentioned before, with times of hardship for businesses in other industries often comes an increased reliance on SaaS. Times of crisis have proven to be an opportunity to reach and serve new customers for SaaS tools. For example, video conferencing tool Zoom now famously gained millions of new users to their platform practically overnight as school and office closures globally were enacted. Many other SaaS companies experienced the same. SaaS companies should look ahead at what new customers they can support and what kind of service and support those customers are going to need. Are they small businesses moving to remote work or selling online for the first time? How can your team support that? Have your marketing and sales reflect this foresight so that new customers feel supported and as if they have found a solution to their emerging issues in your product and team. Mailchimp, Squarespace, Square, and many others repositioned their sales and marketing to support small, brick and mortar businesses who were forced to look for ways to sell online during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, they not only helped businesses stay on their feet but they gained new customers for long after the crisis.
Look for opportunities for your SaaS business:
Within a crisis, there are always opportunities as negative as the effects can be. For business owners, it’s important to look for them. For SaaS, because of the agile and expansive nature of technology that provides a service, there are multiple opportunities to utilize and leverage SaaS in different ways during new circumstances. When a crisis hits and disrupts the regular work of one industry, SaaS can come to facilitate or help establish new processes. This is an opportunity for SaaS companies to serve new customers and also look for new ways to adapt your product for new markets. This affects how SaaS companies market and reach new customers and customer segments. Additionally, SaaS companies can look for ways to serve existing companies by listening to their needs during times of crisis. The key is agility: being able to adapt features, product marketing, sales, and support to meet openings in the market or meet customers where they need your team during a crisis.
Ask users what kind of content they want to see from you:
Crises often come with a time of mourning, loss, pain and a need for sensitivity. Companies have to head to this or face backlash. With the age of social and constant connection, users are looking for a response from you. It has to be in good taste and continue with relevancy. One thing we’ve seen happen a lot during the COVID-19 crisis is companies actually interacting personally with users and asking them what kind of content they see as appropriate and what they want to see. When there is uncharted territory as with a unique crisis like this, it’s best just to ask. A lot of eCommerce companies asked their social followers if they wanted them to keep posting as usual and took suggestions on the type of content their followers wanted – can’t go wrong with that! SaaS companies can do the same and support users exactly as I want as well as get a better understanding of what kind of mindset their users are in and how to move forward with sales and marketing after. This can be done via email or more personally and direct on social media where you can start a group discussion. When others see companies being vulnerable, upfront, and authentic like this, it generates good rapport.
Provide educational and informative content that supports users:
In addition to discovering what your users want to hear from you, it is a good opportunity to support users and new users with content. Many users may be facing specific challenges as a result of a crisis. It’s an opportunity for SaaS to be authoritative and experts in areas where users need help. Guides on how to use features and your service to navigate new challenges in business can be interesting, helpful for users as well as attract new users. Customer success if your success. If your product and customer service helps customers succeed through a crisis, you’ve gained a customer for life. As you may attract new users, this is important as well as supporting them in their specific needs. Having content ready to help new users learn how to use your product and feature for their needs will help to gain their loyalty and onboard them successfully. For example, Mailchimp wrote a blog for new users on “How to reach your audience during COVID-19” and design platform Canva provided pre-made templates of social posts for companies to use to address the crisis online. Read more about creating an effective SaaS content strategy.
Keep engaged and offer excellent customer service:
Customer service and how responsive and in touch you are during a crisis is everything for your customers. Offering support that is personal, easy to access, and effective makes a world of difference in your relationship with your customers. Email and chat support are important. If you have a small team you can use AI and FAQ responses to make sure service is fast. Offering support within your app and during onboarding is important for continued customers success. In addition, keeping customers up to date with what’s going on during a crisis is important. You have to communicate with users in an effective way.
Beamer is the best way to keep users in the loop during a crisis. Beamer is an in-app changelog where your team can post updates for users to see in context in your app or on your site. You can post updates for many things: new features, bug fixes, new updates, messages from your team, new content, etc. You can add images, videos, and GIFs to your updates to make them more informative and engaging. You can also turn on push notifications so that users are brought back to engage with your app when you post updates. Push notifications get much higher open and click through rates than email so it is a more effective way of keeping users informed. Beamer also gives your team the ability to segment updates and notifications by location, age, demographic, and past behavior. Users can also leave feedback on updates in the form of comments and reactions. This way your team can see sentiments from users and address and reply to specific comments and questions. That kind of communication and transparency is important during times of crisis.
We’ve seen a lot of companies miss the mark in terms of addressing crises and a lot of SaaS companies earn new customers and fans for life as a result of the way they address a crisis for both their users and customers. It’s about authenticity, transparency, empathy and ultimately keeping helping users at the forefront. Try Beamer today to better communicate and engage with users.