Is Your Customer Success Program Recession-Proof?

Parker Chase-Corwin
12 min readDec 20, 2018

Four key steps to take now before winter comes.

Let’s assume that the recent volatility in the markets is an indication that the United States (and perhaps even the global economy) is in for a significant economic downturn over the coming years. As a result, Customer Success (CS) leaders should be making serious preparations for their programs and teams to be tested under conditions like they never have encountered.

Why? Because the adolescent CS movement has never been tested by a prolonged bear market.

While early CS trailblazers have been around since late 1990s, it’s generally acknowledged that the mainstream CS movement began between 2010 and 2012. Since then, CS as a corporate discipline has become the key lever for companies to leverage as the SaaS market hit exponential growth. Also during that period, the U.S. economy saw tremendous growth with very few extended negative markets: Prior to today’s current market volatility, there have been only two short-lived bear markets in last 8 years: May 2011-October 2011 and June 2015-June 2016.

Here’s why all of that matters. CS is dedicated to driving positive customer outcomes that improve customer retention and growth. When a bear market hits — and customers face budget cuts and spending reductions — ongoing net retention will be increasingly difficult. Expanding new services will go under a budgetary microscope before approval, valued champions may lose their jobs, and tactics that customer support managers (CSMs) previously used under strong economic conditions will be met with resistance and skepticism.

As sales and renewals performance slows, the same economic conditions may also pressure your own company’s investments, impacting your ability to deliver the program that you’ve worked so hard to build. “Do more with less” becomes a common formula in budget-restrictive times, and that will compromise the effectiveness of customer engagement and personalized care.

With economic red flags popping up all around us, now is the time to make proper preparations and insulate from the coming winter…

Parker Chase-Corwin

Trifecta of separate-but-earned passions: 20-year veteran of Customer Success. Taller half of Captain UNplastic at


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