Cancellations and how you handle them?

Brian O'Keeffe
Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 163 Expert
100 Comments 25 Insightfuls 25 Likes Photogenic

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?


  • afettere
    afettere Member Posts: 6 Navigator
    5 Comments 5 Insightfuls Name Dropper

    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: 163 Expert
    100 Comments 25 Insightfuls 25 Likes Photogenic

    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, Success Network Members Posts: 31 Contributor
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Insightfuls 5 Likes

    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
    Name Dropper First Comment Photogenic
    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
    5 Comments 5 Insightfuls Name Dropper

    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
    10 Comments 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes

    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.