This team communication regarding COVID-19 is part of our COVID-19 Response Series. You can see all the messages in the series here.
- Shared: April 3, 2020
- Posted by: Joel Gascoigne, Buffer Founder and CEO
- Title: Launching the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
Launching the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
Hey team, I’m glad to be sharing an update with you on how we’re planning to continue and expand the ways we’re helping customers get through this COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re now several weeks into this crisis and there are a few ways this changes things for us: We’re settling into a rhythm. We know that we have lower productivity as a team overall, but we also know that there are things we can continue working on together for our customers, and for our own sense of connection and wellbeing. The work, especially when it relates to helping small businesses through this pandemic, has the potential to give us purpose in a time where many of us are doing more existential questioning.
We have several weeks of data now on some of the ways COVID-19 is impacting Buffer. This means that our predictability is improving in terms of how we will get through this, and as a result also our ability to more confidently help customers has increased too.It’s clear that this is going to be the new normal for a while, and that the impact of that situation is devastating for many. There are unique ways we can help that are tied to our purpose and our platform, and now feels like the time to help customers in a bigger way.
Relatedly, because we are many weeks into COVID-19 now, people will increasingly be looking for information from us on how we’re responding and able to help. So we should adjust from our reactive “help those who get in touch with us” which made sense in the earlier days, to a more public “make it easy to find the ways we’re helping” approach.
Introducing the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
This is why, today, we’re launching our first version of the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program. The purpose of the program is to more proactively help those in need in this time. Specifically, we are thinking about businesses in a critical industry, businesses performing essential services to support community, and businesses which have been adversely affected by COVID-19. By establishing a program and giving it a name, we can put the existing ways we are already helping, under the umbrella of this program, and also create a space for us to add future ways we introduce to help customers.
We currently have four ways we’re going to be helping customers, depending on their situation and impact:
- Waiving upcoming payments
- Pausing their Buffer subscription
- Gifting essential product features
- Extended 90 day trials for new customers
The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program is live now and there’s a form for customers to fill out to request help. We will start sharing this page soon, and we are also implementing a banner on the home page and in the billing section to direct people who may be looking for help to the page.
The first two methods (waiving payments and pausing subscription) are what the Advocacy team has already been doing for customers, and I want to take a moment to share my gratitude for the whole team for the care that’s been put into helping customers so far. We’ve helped close to 100 customers already with paused subscriptions or waived payments, and we’ve had lots of great feedback on this. We’re making a real impact here.
As part of launching this program more officially, we will also be earmarking $500k over the coming weeks/months to help customers in the ways above, and new ways we brainstorm and implement over the coming weeks.
Most of this amount will be utilized to provide Buffer to customers who still have a need for our platform but are in need of some financial relief. A small portion may go be used as cash spend in initiatives that can help customers or serve our purpose, but that is likely to be a minimal amount. As a result, $500k is a very manageable number, more of a ledger we are keeping track of, than an actual cost. And it’s likely that these efforts will reduce churn and retain customers, even though payments will be deferred a few months.
This program is specifically intended as a Customer Assistance program, rather than a charitable contribution or community effort. We will continue to assess whether we can do something that more broadly helps certain communities or causes, however that will be kept separate from our efforts to help small business customers, aligned around our products and purpose. We do intend to help future, prospective customers through the Customer Assistance program too.
Thanks to all of you at Buffer for the care you’re putting into helping customers and keeping things going right now. I’m feeling very fortunate that we are in a position to be able to help customers in these significant ways, where other companies are not as well placed.