A global pandemic is pretty tough for a lot of businesses to pull through. With entire countries coming to a standstill and forcing brick-and-mortar businesses to close their doors for long periods of time, many companies turn to their online presence and start wondering what more they can do to keep themselves afloat. This opens up a lot of opportunities for WordPress businesses to deliver tons of value and support at a time when lots of people need it. After this pandemic is ‘all over’, customers will remember who was there for them during tough times and who went the extra mile to help them out.
I’ll look at some areas you can focus on to help customers during this time and I’ll identify some opportunities to increase your own MRR. You’ll then have a checklist of items you can refer back to in times of crisis for your own business, should you need it again.
Focus on retention first.
At times of crisis, your existing customers are your most important. If you had a sales push planned, I’d recommend pausing that right now and putting that energy into nurturing your existing clients. By focusing on how you can help your current customers continue to get value from your product or service, you work toward retaining your existing MRR and reducing cancellations. What this looks like will depend on the service that you’re providing.
Here’s an example. If you’re a designer who has clients on monthly retainers, what can you give your clients over the next couple of months that would be highly valuable to them but is low maintenance for you to provide? You could provide an in-depth e-Book crammed with actions your client can actually take to help in their business right now, you could provide a structured 30-minute consultation session each month while they stick with your main product or service, or if you work on hourly retainer work you could consider adding on bonus time for your clients. The aim of all of these bonuses is to retain your current clients on your main product to reduce your cancellation rate and to show your clients you’re there for them. The key will be to find something that doesn’t cost too much for you to provide but lets your clients know you’re there for them.
Increase communication with your clients.
In general, an increase in communication will be needed with your current client base. Your existing clients will want to know how you’re handling the pandemic in your own business and that you’re still there for them. Consider sending out a personal email to your clients explaining any of your own business changes and any changes to your product or service over the coming months. Keep this communication reassuring and positive, with the focus on moving forward and your intention to continue to be there to support them through.
To be able to do this at scale, email will be your best friend. You could use a service like ConvertKit, coupled with their automation feature called ‘Sequences’, to create a brand new automated email sequence checking in with your clients over the coming months. Your first email should include your own business plans and how you’re tackling things, and it should also offer a way for your clients to contact you if they’d like to chat things through.
If you have clients that you don’t speak to very often, now is a great time to check in to let them know you’re there for them.
If you’re a freelance consultant or a smaller WordPress agency, and you still have phone contact with your clients, schedule those calls! Find out what’s going on in your clients’ businesses and identify areas you can step in and provide value where you can.
Existing at-risk customers are even more at risk now.
Customers who were at risk of churning before are now even more at risk. These should definitely be a focus. Increasing communication with these clients is going to be key to their success with your product or service during a tough time. You may even want to create a completely separate email sequence for these clients to make that communication even more personal. If you’re providing a support service, you’ll want your Customer Success team to keep very close tabs on these clients to make sure they’re getting red carpet service. One small slip up in your service now and you risk these clients cancelling. The relationship is already fragile, so do what you can to let your at-risk clients know that you are there to help.
If you haven’t yet identified any at-risk clients, now is the time to do so. These may be clients that don’t log into your system (product) anymore or a client that has stopped sending in support requests, or perhaps you have a bunch of clients who have slowed down on using their block of recurring hours? These clients should be identified and a strategy created to get in touch.
Identify opportunities for account growth
As I mentioned earlier, businesses are focused now more than ever on their websites, which opens up a lot of opportunities for WordPress businesses to step in and offer value.
We already spoke about what extras you can offer for free to help your clients through the pandemic, but what about paid opportunities?
Identifying existing account growth opportunities is a great way to both add more value to existing customers (retention) and to expand your own MRR without necessarily having to invest in sales and marketing to bring on new clients.
Let’s say you’re a WordPress care plan service. It’s almost guaranteed that a bunch of your clients have more than one WordPress website and they’re likely going to start thinking about having someone manage that now. Reach out to clients and see how you can help. You could also offer a small discount for bringing on a second website with you.
If you’re a plugin support company, can you offer a higher level service with extras or faster support time? As a WordPress developer or design agency, what add-ons can you promote that your clients need right now?
There’s always an opportunity for expansion, so think outside the box!
Focus on your affiliate program
If you have an affiliate program, now is a great time to push that. Your existing clients probably know a lot of people in the same boat as them who are looking for your service. By promoting your affiliate program to existing clients you’re adding extra value to them (they get commission) and you grow your MRR by winning new clients being referred to you, it’s a win-win.
When communicating with your existing clients about your affiliate program, you’ll want to keep the tone ‘customer-focused’. Avoid sentences that focus on your business and instead use language that shows the client you’re thinking about them. Focus on what they get (commission) and how they now have an opportunity to help people in their network by referring them to a trusted service.
Make sure that your affiliate terms are very clear (when payouts occur, where they can create their own links, how much commission they receive etc) and that your clients understand how they can refer people successfully.
Identify referral opportunities
The chances are that you have a lot of contact with your existing customers already. When you’re talking to your customers, whether via email, telephone or Zoom, keep an ear out for the type of people your client is in contact with. This will help you identify opportunities for straightforward referrals, outside of your affiliate program. Perhaps you can offer a 10 or 15% discount to their business friend if your existing customer would like to refer them to you? This makes your existing client feel special, your potential new customer gets a good deal, and you increase your MRR. These conversations are much more natural than pushing your affiliate program and are often more appropriate. Brief your team to identify these opportunities so that you can open up a conversation with your existing clients.
Ask for social reviews
This one was left to last, for a reason. It’s entirely focused on you.
Identify opportunities to ask your existing client base to leave you awesome social reviews. Now more than ever, social proof is going to be your best friend when it comes to winning new business!
just like the referral strategy above, you might want to reserve asking this question for when you’re chatting 1:1 with a client, or for when your customer specifically sings your praises on a support ticket or email.
Anytime a customer volunteers information about their amazing experience is an opportunity for you to ask for a social review. To make this easier for the customer, you can even ask for permission to use the same quote/feedback they left you on the support ticket or email on your website testimonial reel so they don’t even have to do anything extra. Although ideally, it’d be great if they left you a review on your Facebook page or any review websites you’re signed up to.
Offer solutions to potentially churning customers
You’re likely to receive at least a few cancellation notices during this time, especially as people review their finances, their spending and their service providers on the books. Truth is, if you’re providing an awesome service to your clients, they likely don’t want to cancel, but may be forced to due to budget constraints. When this happens, make sure you have a few viable strategies under your belt so that you give yourself one last shot at saving the customer.
- Can you temporarily pause your customer’s subscription to give them a spending break?
- Can you offer a 50% discount for next month’s service?
- Do you have downgrade options, rather than cancelations?
Any of the above examples are better than a full cancellation, and you’ll still have a chance to support the customer again in one or two months time, even if they pause their subscription.
Going through a crisis such as the current pandemic is tough on all businesses, everywhere. These strategies aim to help you show your clients that you’re here to stay and that you’re here to help them through. Having said that, it’s inevitable that you’ll lose some clients during this time. The most important thing to remember is that the way your cancellation process makes your clients feel will be the last impression they have of you and your business. Don’t make things difficult when someone does want to cancel. They have to do what they have to do when it comes to their business and their money, but you should have some strategies under your belt to help reduce your churn during the pandemic (or any other crisis you might face).
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