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Make it easy for customers to leave

A lot has been written about how we should make it easy for people to sign up for a service whether that’s optimising the UX or shortening a cumbersome registration process.  What we don’t hear much about is the ease with which customers should be able to leave a service.

For obvious reasons, we make our services as sticky as possible. We work hard to ensure that without our service, our user will find it hard to save time, money or effort.  And for all the associated effort we marketers put into ensuring our customers are satisfied, the journey shouldn’t end with a smooth sign up or onboarding or license renewal. It must also end with the our customers being able to leave easily.

Now, the circumstances by which they leave can vary. Nevertheless, whether they leave on happy terms or sad, we should strive to make it easy for customers.

Take my recent experiences with cancelling my subscriptions to the wall street journal and the New York Times.

I’ve had an NYT subscription for 2 years now but find I’m reading it less and less. My Wall Street Journal sub, I’ve had for 3 months, which was essentially a lapsed free trial. So, I looked on both sites for how to cancel. Both offered phone numbers but only one provided an alternative.

I called the Wall Street Journal on the European number provided on the site. I was then told my subscription was with the US so I needed to be transferred to a different department. Fine. Call transferred. I was then asked some security details and told that I’d been passed to the wrong department. I was then forwarded to the ‘correct’ department. I then endured a fractious 10minute call with a disinterested rep, to whom I had to repeat my details three times and spell out my name phonetically. We talked briefly about my wish to cancel my subscription and at this point, I think he gave up. He told me he’ll cancel my account. “Thank you,” I said “when will my cancellation be eff…” brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  He hung up. Splendid. I’m still awaiting the confirmation.

Compare this with my experience with the New York Times. On the cancellation section of their Help page, I was given the option to phone or live chat. I took the live chat as I honestly thought it was too good to be true. Turns out it is true. Fantastically so. A chat window popped open. I submitted my email address and I was introduced to Brianna who, after stating that I wanted to cancel my subscription, set about doing just that. Other than asking why I was leaving, there was no upsell, no counteroffer. Just a simple thank you for your readership. I was then presented with a net promoter survey. All good. Seamless. No hassle. Positive.

As a result, I have two very different experiences. I honestly don’t think it’s a difficult thing to be able to deliver.

There is no reason that customers shouldn’t be delighted to leave.

 

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