How Not to Minimize Cancellations [Rant]

How Not to Minimize Cancellations [Rant]

If you run a subscription business, cancellations are part of the package. You need to focus on retention to win, but cancellations / churn happen no matter what.

You should minimize cancellations by improving your service and/or getting the right kind of people in the door. Not by making it harder to cancel.

The worst option: have people call to cancel

This is the cruelest way to do it. Forcing people to pick up a phone to call to cancel the service is seriously customer-hating.

I’m looking at you NY Times:

Also bad: having people to send email to cancel

There’s no excuse for not having a “Cancel” option inside the service. Don’t make users open up their email client and manually type in the “please cancel” message.

Mixergy is a culprit:

And so is Digital Marketer:

What to do instead

You let them cancel from within your app / service! By making it difficult to cancel, you’re not creating any fans. You might make an extra dollar, but you’ll piss people off and generate negative word of mouth. Not worth it.

You minimize churn by investing in the service and making it what users want! Obviously you can’t please everyone, so it’s important you get the right people in to begin with.

Cancellations are a way for you to learn what people are unhappy with. Emails asking them “why did you cancel” have terribly low response rates.

We made it mandatory to state the reason for cancellation at CXL Institute. It’s still a couple of clicks to cancel (can also enter bogus data if you want), but we’re getting a treasure chest of information we use to improve your service.

It’s a form of qualitative research + we quantify our most common reasons for cancelling, so we can see which issue we should address the most. I highly recommend it. It’s data gathering for boosting retention.

Bottom line: let people cancel inside your app.

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Join the Conversation Add Your Comment

  1. I love, Love, LOVE putting a big-as-Texas callout in a sidebar of the checkout page with the wording, “Cancel, suspend, or upgrade anytime. You’re in complete control.”
    Along with some social validation, and removing of unnecessary fields on the checkout page, the simple statement of a store owner blatantly making the ‘how-to-cancel’ a part of the checkout page is an absolute conversion booster!

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Usually my biggest doubt before I fill in my credit card details is whether it will be easy and painless to cancel.

    I hope that every Saas owner will read this article.

  3. Man, are things like this ever a pet peeve of mine! Craziest thing is that when we see situations like these among our own clients, we often find out that it’s only done that way, basically out of laziness. They’re often not trying to be customer-hating, and they realize it’s better to make it easier, but they don’t because that got low-priority (low enough that it never got done). And it still takes convincing to get done!

    Good, and necessary rant Peep!

  4. if I am not sure about a service the first thing, I will do is look for the delete account, cancel subscription option. If they make you jump through any of the hoops you have identified then I won’t even take my free trial further and you can forget having me to provide my card details to start a free trial.

    In fact the UK government is looking at this kind of trickery where with continuous payments only the service provider can cancel the payment!

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How Not to Minimize Cancellations [Rant]