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.