Make It Easy for Customers to Cancel Your Subscription

A look at why you should make things easy as possible for customers to cancel.

Christopher Chae
· 4 min read
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Many companies in the subscription business are constantly looking for ways to reduce churns and cancellations because they hurt recurring revenues. Maintaining a healthy, growing list of paid customers is on the list of every subscription business.

But some companies would go so far and use dirty tactics to try and win their customers back. They hide cancellation buttons making it difficult to find on their website. Some even take it off of their site and make customers call to cancel. Only then the customers would be "sweet-talked" to keep the service for now.

I literally had to fill all of this out (even though they had all of above) just to cancel a news subscription.

Making things difficult for the customers may seem just the right trick to keep them subscribed. But in reality, it just does the opposite. It would actually hurt your company in the long run. I'd argue that your business should make it easy for customers to cancel.

Why can't everyone just be cool as Netflix?

Why would you want to help customers canceling your service?

Two reasons.

  1. Customers who decided to cancel are not likely to find success with your product/service anytime soon (even if you retain them for now.)
  2. If you burn bridges, you'll lose your chance to win them back once and for all.

Customers who decided to cancel are not likely to find success with your product/service anytime soon (even if you retain them for now.)

If your customer has decided to cancel, then chances are he or she already left you and has no intention of continuing to use your service because you failed to show them any value that would justify your fees.

So even if you make it hard to cancel, they've already given up on engaging your product/service. It's highly likely that they'll barely use your product. What you want is healthy engagement throughout your user base. All you're doing now is collecting blind money.

It's better to let them go now and make sure you are continuously improving your product/service. Gracefully (and gratefully) show them an easy exit and focus on the customers who are with you. It's not worth your focus and time to the customers who've already lost their interest in you.

If you burn bridges, you'll lose your chance to win them back once and for all.

Customers may leave now, but the chances are they might be coming back later. They were once interested in what you offer, who says they aren't anymore? The reason they cancel is not that they weren't interested in your offering in the first place, it's that they weren't able to find success with you at this time.

Maybe a few months down the road, or even a few years later, when you are ready to have them back (meaning your product/service is much better than a version they once tried), they could come back and sign up again.

But what if all of the difficult cancellation processes you've installed in hopes for retention had given them such a negative experience, that they are just done with you? Now you're just burning bridges.

These days, when you are giving one bad experience, you're giving it to a thousand. Remember that most people write way more bad reviews than positive ones.

Part your ways under good terms. But always keep a door open. Remember, they are interested in your offering, they're just not in it right now.

It's the ultimate act of excellent customer success management.

It's simple. When customers find success with you, you will be successful. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, wrote in his classic book Made in America, said:

"Exceed your customer's expectations. If you do, they'll come back over and over. Give them what they want - and a little more." - Sam Walton

It may hurt a bit now to let customers leave. But if you make unsatisfied customers leave happy, you'll have another chance to win them back again later. That's the beauty of running a subscription business instead of a static product/service. Be sure to build lasting relationships.

Today it's harder to find a company that doesn't think of customer service. Everyone knows it's crucial to satisfy your customers. But a real customer-centric business not only provides the best possible value but also goes out of its way to willfully cancel subscriptions for unsatisfied customers and sometimes even refund the money to them. If you are going to be a truly customer-centric company, give them what they want. And a little more.