Is Your Customer Success Program Recession-Proof in 2020?

Parker Chase-Corwin
12 min readMar 16, 2020

Four key steps to take now with the global market crash.

Let’s assume that the recent coronavirus-sponsored plunge in the markets means that the global economy is in for a significant economic downturn over the coming years. As a result, Customer Success (CS) leaders should be making immediate and 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 the markets dropping so suddenly, anxiety and panic are dramatically spiking, and your customers are already shifting…

Parker Chase-Corwin

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