Cancellations and how you handle them?

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Brian O'Keeffe
Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 205 Expert
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I am working on overhauling the cancellation experience/process and wonder how you handle them?

How does your customer cancel?

Do you try to save every cancellation?

How do you manage renewal notifications?

Do you have an automatic price increase baked into every renewal?

My model for cancellations is Apple. When you subscribe to a service the option to cancel is available via any device via your subscriptions options. Click and cancellation is completed.

No customer journey should be as painful as trying to cancel from Comcast, my example of the worst subscription experience cancellation. It is not straightforward, there are endless attempts to "save" the account that only serve to irritate and annoy me and harden my resolve to never do business with them again.

How to strike a balance? How do you make cancelling a seamless customer experience (on par with all other customer experiences) and carefully do everything you can to understand why and do all you can to save it and not create a painful, bitter parting?

Comments

  • afettere
    afettere Member Posts: 6 Navigator
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    Cancelation is an important but unfortunate source of signal. That's why it's critical to understand why they are canceling. While the specifics of how you gather this, try to:

    • talk to as many customers as possible.
    • channel feedback across the company

    Apple just lets you as a consumer go because (a) they collect lots of usage data and probably saw it coming, (b) they have millions of customers so lose a few won't materially matter. On the other hand, Apple fiercly fights to retain enterprise customers, which unless you are on the inside, isn't something you see.

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 205 Expert
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    I appreciate the feedback and refer to the Apple customer experience, not the actual cancellation process. When a customer leaves there is often a trick or trap built in: obscure terms and conditions, a data export issue that makes it almost impossible to actually get your data, or worse, an openly hostile reaction that this is war. Employees are often tasked with making it such a challenge (Comcast!) that they try to wear you down to give up. All of this is a miserable customer experience.

    Once we know a customer is leaving, there is no turning back, how do you handle that?

  • Javed Maqsood
    Javed Maqsood Member Posts: 31 Contributor
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    Hi @Brian O'Keeffe - What bucket do these customers fall who are canceling? Large, mid-market, small? For large enterprise, your cancelations should be predictable and treated in one fashion. Consultation, attempt to save, lessons learned etc. For small customers, it should be drastically different.

    However, making cancelations an easy experience is universal. Once you know a customer is leaving and there is no turning back, let them go. Learn why they are leaving and fix the gap. Also think about how / when you may have a possibility to bring them back.

    Javed Maqsood
    Advisor, Mentor
  • Nbaxby
    Nbaxby Member Posts: 5 Navigator
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    I agree that you don’t want to make cancellations painful for customers, but it is important to understand why — product, customer focus/relationship, budget, competitor. Ideally you already know this ahead of the customer cancelling, but sometimes it is a surprise. 

    I like to make sure we have something to offer going into the cancellation call. A pack that I can hand them that helps with a seamless transition to a new vendor that provides all the performance of our solution, business case and benchmarking. I hope it leaves them with a good feeling and the ability to evaluate whether their new tool is really better. 

    Odds are, when budgets aren’t so tight, they return. 
  • afettere
    afettere Member Posts: 6 Navigator
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    Once you know they are leaving, treat them with respect as they someday may return. Do what you can to make their exit graceful and go the extra mile to ensure that they get what they need.

    Boomerang customers, sponsors, and users are a thing.

  • ashley_martin
    ashley_martin Member Posts: 30 Navigator
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    Agree that you don't want the Comcast experience. Especially if they are canceling because of something out of their control like budget or a new executive who is coming in and overhauling tools. I would respectfully let them cancel, and like the others said have a conversation to understand their reasoning. The less painful you make the process the more likely you will get them back as a customer if you were adding value in the first place. If the process is too painful, like you mentioned with Comcast they will not want to do business with you again.

    And if even they canceled in good standing and partnership they still may refer you to others.

  • llitton
    llitton Member, CS Leader Posts: 10 Navigator
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    Here's how we approach it:

    1. We send renewal notifications 120 days in advance to remind customers about upcoming renewals and make any necessary changes to their subscriptions. Customers can cancel directly from that renewal email by clicking "Cancel my subscription."
    2. We aim to understand why customers cancel by providing options for feedback during the cancellation process. We ask them to choose from specific drop-down options to help us gather insights into areas where we can improve our product or service, as well as provide an optional text field on what we could do to improve in the future.
    3. While we respect the customer's decision to cancel, if the issue is pricing, we make at least one effort to retain them by negotiating the renewal contract. In all cases, we strive to maintain a positive relationship to leave a lasting impression should they consider returning in the future.

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 205 Expert
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    Hello Javed, Customers are mainly SMB and in my past experience where micro SMB, a first for me.

    I experimented by adding a How Likely Are You to Renew question to all SMB renewals either 120 or 180 days before renewal and got a 12% response. Included was a text field to explain why or why not then created a playbook for each response type. In less than a year we identified $2 million in revenue as safe and were able to save another million. (The criticism I got for this was major. Why don't you know who might renew, one executive asked. My blunt response: because we don't have the data. Also there was a braying about people lying. I created a graph that showed the answers to who actually renewed and who did not. No obvious mass lying was revealed.)

    I may add this question to all renewals for SMB customers in my current mission but change the notification to an alert that requires everyone to go to a page to see the renewal notice and walks them through answering the question. I bet we get more than 12% responding. Is it too burdensome?