Today, I cancelled my account with a company whom, throughout our 3 year relationship, I have been delighted. I simply did not have a need for their service any longer.
Delighted until today! Today, I searched their website for their cancellation process only to find nothing, spent 20 minutes on hold with their team, received a scripted hard sale to stay, and then was put back on hold for 10 minutes before finally accomplishing my goal of ending my contract. Phew.
This company isn’t unique in its intentional strategy to make exiting difficult. This experience, however, made me consider my own company’s process for handling customers who buy less, stop buying, and / or just ebb and flow in their relationship with us.
Great companies know that customer retention is golden. However, retention by force (aka: creating an impossibly difficult way to opt out) is a great way to convert loyal, referring customers to vocal opponents at the moment that is most important – their most recent and last experience with your company.
Having a strong customer retention program is admirable. Creating transparency to changes in a buying habits so you can re-engage and create a more relevant value proposition for a customer is smart. But sometimes, companies simply want to see if the grass is greener, have a financial crunch that changes their spending habits, or want to test drive alternative solutions.
You can view this group as either ex-customers or high potential prospects. And how you treat them during their exit will determine if they will ever give you a shot again.
If you’ve taken every value-add, win-win step to retain a customer and still, one gets away, don’t replace ease of service with hassle and pleasant engagement with frustrated disconnect.
Be great even as they leave by having a process for flagging them as a high potential prospect, and begin connecting with them as such. Their respect for your company will increase, as will the likelihood that they will buy in the future and spread the good word about your service and integrity.