How to (not) let go of paying users when they quit

When people stop paying for your product of course you are sad to see them go. But it’s also an opportunity to provide them with a great experience, get valuable input and to figure out how to welcome them back soon. You want folks leaving on a high, not a low.

Yesterday I wanted to cancel a subscription plan to a product I really liked and would recommend. It just does not make sense for me right now.

I could not find a way to cancel the subscription. Not in the account settings, not at the dashboard showing my current plan, not in the FAQ, not even a search “cancel plan” or “change plan” would yield any result. I thought I was being stupid, looked in dozens of other places.

Then it dawned on me – I’ve seen this show before. I am going to have to write the support team or call a hotline to cancel my subscription. And so it was.

I was so frustrated and angry I will not be using or recommending that product going forward. The other problem is that by treating your paying customers that way you are signalling that you are extremely desperate and insecure. I am not sure you want to be doing that.

I know this trick because we’ve seen this at some of our companies in the past. We always got a slap on the wrist from the community and rightly so.

 Here’s a few things I think everyone should be doing:

  • Put the cancellation button in places where it’s obvious, where people expect it. You don’t have to be waving it around in people’s faces but don’t force them to go on a search

  • Double check they really want to cancel and they understand the consequences (features, data lost, etc)

  • Offer them alternative, cheaper or more flexible plans if that makes sense

  • Offer to pause the subscription for a period of time
  • Offer them a way to get at their data etc. – don’t make them feel like you have them by the balls. Nobody likes that

  • Provide a very simple feedback loop so you can understand why they are leaving and how / why they might come back

  • Ask if you can keep in touch, etc

  • Be nice, say thank you – lots of high-fiving on the way out

I am sure there is more that can be done.

When customers leave it’s your last chance to make a great impression. Use it.

4 Comments on “How to (not) let go of paying users when they quit”

  1. I really liked the approach audible deals with that issue –> they offered me a free month right before the final step of cancelation. And after that they asked me if i want to just pause my subscription till end of the year and then they will ask again. And guess what… im still a subscriber now 🙂

  2. It is so sad that your recent experience is the standard mode of operation to practically all utility providers. I even had a utility provider keep charging me after the contract has been properly cancelled and refusing to stop charging unless I scan and fax them their own Kündigungsbestätigung, I’m looking at you Kabeldeutschland!

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