▷ The 11 KPIs to watch in times of crisis -

How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your business? Beyond closed restaurants, nightclubs, bars or museums, it is all very small businesses, SMEs and large groups that are impacted, sometimes positively, often negatively …

Behind the closures of more publicized establishments, many entrepreneurs suffer in silence: loss of customers, lengthening of payment terms or increase in online advertising spending. Every entrepreneur struggles to survive, to adapt to economic upheavals or to take advantage of new opportunities.

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Before proposing a remedy, the correct diagnosis should be made. For this, we offer you a list of 11 KPIs to watch in times of crisis to carry out the right actions and adapt to the new economic situation. These KPIs to watch apply to all businesses although some will be more familiar with digitized businesses.

1. Turnover

Let’s start with a great classic: your turnover. It will obviously be necessary to look at more precise KPIs in a second step, but monitoring the evolution of its turnover allows to have a first overview and to carry out concrete actions.

How was your turnover impacted during the various confinements and exits from confinement? Has your turnover increased or decreased compared to the same period of the previous year? Have you seen an upward or downward trend since the start of the crisis? Study the variations more than the raw numbers.


EBITDA or Earning Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization is an indicator that allows you to measure the wealth creation of your business. This indicator is, like the turnover, a must when you want to have a complete vision of the financial health of your business.

You can measure it from your turnover by subtracting purchases and external charges, personnel costs and other charges.

3. The WCR

Penultimate financial KPI on this list: WCR or need in funds. It allows you to measure your cash flow requirement to pay your current expenses while waiting to receive your trade receivables.

In other words, there is always a lag between the establishment of trade receivables and their payments. The WCR represents the money you need to keep your business running while these debts are paid.

The calculation of the WCR is as follows: trade receivables + stock – debts.

WCR tends to increase in times of crisis with longer payment terms. Several solutions exist to compensate for this increase and especially if your working capital becomes too important such as bank loan, factoring or specific work on reducing payment terms.

4. Late payments

According to a study by KPMG, payment terms increased by 3.5 days on average over the year 2020. This may not seem like much, but the increase in payment terms can have catastrophic effects on a company such as the inability to honor its debts or the increase in working capital.

The problem of late payments is difficult to resolve. Companies that take a long time to pay you may be in a difficult situation and better a customer who pays 3 days late than a customer who doesn’t. A simple tip: talk. Find solutions that work for both parties.

These top 4 financial KPIs are useful whether you are facing an economic recession or strong growth. They allow you to detect frictions and adapt your strategy, but other more specialized KPIs are also to be monitored in times of crisis.

5. The average basket

Has the average basket of your customers changed since March 2019 and the first confinement? An economic crisis results in a contraction of consumption. While some sectors are doing better, negative GDP growth (or decline) implies lower consumption.

Consumers buy less or buy less and your average basket can be impacted. If your customer acquisition costs remain the same, it becomes problematic and you will have to adapt your strategy.

6. The lifetime value

Lifetime Value or LTV lets you know how much your clients are making over the long term. To put it simply, this is the average basket of a customer over the long term.

The calculation of the LTV is as follows: (purchase frequency x average basket) x customer lifespan.

Imagine a cashier software that targets restaurant owners, with the number of restaurants closing, the subscription length will go down, and if the average basket doesn’t go up, the LTV will go down.

When the average basket or LTV drops, it means that each new customer is earning less than before, it is therefore necessary to adapt its customer acquisition cost or its operating costs to keep a margin at the same level.

7. The cost of customer acquisition

Many entrepreneurs invest in digital channels (Facebook Ads, Google Ads and any social network + Ads). Normally, the costs of social media advertising increase every year, but the COVID-19 crisis is only accelerating the trend. It makes sense, there are more advertisers and more solicitations for your potential customers and therefore worse conversion rates.

Be careful that your customer acquisition cost remains stable, especially if your average basket or LTV goes down.

Customer acquisition cost is measured by dividing all marketing costs and sales costs by the number of customers acquired.

8. The attrition rate

The churn rate or churn rate is the percentage of lost customers compared to your number of customers. The COVID-19 crisis risks increasing your attrition rate despite yourself.

There is a risk that there will be an increase in company liquidations although, for now, state financial aid contains the phenomenon. The attrition rate increases especially with companies that cut back on their spending and choose to sacrifice your product or service. It is the same mechanism for individuals who, if they lose purchasing power, will have to arbitrate between their different expenditure items, sometimes to the detriment of your business.

Monitoring your average basket, your LTV, your customer acquisition cost and your attrition rate will allow you to see the quantified evolution of the crisis on your activity. You can go even further by studying more qualitative KPIs.

9. The prospect / customer conversion rate

With the COVID-19 crisis, buying triggers are changed. Your customers, whether they are businesses or individuals, are changing their behavior and you must ensure that your prospect / customer conversion rate remains stable.

More interesting than the decrease or increase of this KPI, analyze the reasons for this change to adapt your sales pitch and your marketing messages. Your prospects may be more sensitive to ecology, price, or the ability to test. Analyze why your prospects are converting more or less and adapt.

10. Customer satisfaction

Crisis or not, you must focus on customer satisfaction. Are your customers always satisfied? Is your experience still so good? The customer relationship evolves with the crisis. Think about training that takes place online rather than face-to-face or the rise of click and collect. New audiences are going digital and you need to adapt your customer experience.

To do this, carefully measure your customer satisfaction and adapt your processes. The companies that get through the crisis will be the ones that meet the needs of their customers. Consumer support for struggling businesses will only last if they take care of their customers over time.

11. Internal productivity

For this last KPI, we hesitated between internal productivity or the commitment of your employees. Your employees are also suffering from this new situation which is left to last. Telecommuting and stress can take a toll on the happiness of your team.

A loss of productivity or a decrease in the commitment of your employees are two results of the same problem: setting up teleworking more complicated than it seems or a working environment respecting health instructions.

It is not a question of “coping” the productivity of your employees, but of providing them with the necessary elements (office chairs, computers, tools) to maintain an optimal working environment. Talk to your employees and take care of them.

The last 2 KPIs are the most important to us, without happy customers and happy employees it will be difficult for your business to last.

If you want to dig deeper into the subject of KPIs, you can consult the following articles on KPIs to optimize your website, your marketing videos or this guide with more than 60 KPIs.

Our last tip: don’t tell yourself that this situation is temporary and that everything will go back to how it was before. However long the COVID-19 crisis lasts, the behaviors of your customers, individuals or businesses, will change. Adapt and anticipate the future needs of your customers. This difficult crisis can be full of opportunities to whoever manages to grab them.