Enable Graceful Departures for Your Customers

Enable Graceful Departures for Your Customers

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


Does any of this sound familiar to you? “Ride our bike for 50 days. If you don’t like it, return it, no questions asked.” Cancel your subscription for those razorblades. It’s okay, we understand. Try our bank for a little while, and if you don’t like how we help we will send you off with 100 pounds. Thank you, please come back again when we can serve you.

These three honest, simple and easy terms of engagement are brought to you by Roll Bicycles, who described and decided that road time, and assistance and helping you receive, build and take care of that bike is why they want you to stay. No contract can convince you of that. And also by Dollar Shave Club, who decided that great value blades and whimsy and service are their glue. They won’t keep you captive with a contract. And finally, UK-based bank, First Direct, who makes it easy to switch to them and then gives you 100 pounds as a farewell gift if they’re just not your cup of tea.

Don’t Charge Penalty Fees for Cancelling Subscriptions

Delivering value to you is what motivates these brands. Make-mom-proud companies would rather keep your business with service and value, not those contract terms. On the other hand, some companies just don’t want to let you go.

For example, Kevin purchased a one-year software package of services expecting from the description of the service offering that he could end the subscription after that first year if he needed to. What he didn’t know was that when he signed up for the service, an auto-renew cycle and billing automatically began, after his first year ran out. The fine print, however, said that he had to cancel only within month 11 of the 12-month subscription. When he figured this out, Kevin called customer service to cancel but was informed that he passed the 11th month and the auto-renewal was irreversible. The company offered him a solution though, he could pay a cancellation fee equal to 50% of the new contract that he just unwittingly signed up for. He ended his 20-year relationship with the company because of the terms of departure.

Would you charge your mom a penalty for canceling her subscription with you? Or would you take the opportunity to learn why she’s leaving and thank her for her business? A graceful departure may lead to an eventual return.

Would you charge your mom a penalty for canceling her subscription with you? Or would you take the opportunity to learn why she's leaving and thank her for her business? #CX Click To Tweet

Provide the Ins and Outs for Cancelling A Service

As customers, our lives and our needs change, and sometimes we just don’t need something anymore. Maybe it’s a monthly subscription we signed up to and then forgot, and we now have a lifetime supply of vitamins, or we need to switch cable providers, or we need to opt out of a subscription. There are times that we just have to say goodbye to a business or a service.

Enabling a graceful departure, as non-intuitive as it may sound, can actually lead to an eventual return. When people are assisted and provided with all of the ins and outs of canceling and the fine print involved, the possible “gotcha” moments lurking, and the billing implications, you get a customer who’s grateful for how you conducted yourself.

A company that offers residential and commercial security solutions in Turkey, for example, recently re-imagined their customer departure experience. They simplified the experience from having a customer speak to four different teams, to honoring the departing customer with one single point of contact. They call this person a super agent role, someone emboldened to do the right thing for customers as they departed. Rather than never wanting to talk to ProNet again, the previous sentiment of departing customers, this new experience opens the door for someone to return.

Enabling a graceful departure, as non-intuitive as it may sound, can actually lead to an eventual return. #CustomerExperience #CX Click To Tweet

Bad Customer Breakups Have an Impact

Leaving a company can feel like a personal breakup. It can be agonizing if your partner makes it hard to leave, but some breakups can be pretty cordial marked by mutual respect and understanding. In these situations, there’s an opportunity to remain friends. If it’s a tough departure though, it actually validates the reasons for letting go, and your feet can’t take you away from the situation fast enough.

The fact is that bad customer breakups have an impact. When you make customers jump through those hoops to leave you, they will tell everyone they know. And the harder the departure, just like that breakup, the more people the customer will tell about it and the cost of the company multiplies. A well-handled departure can earn a future return, but a challenging departure closes that door.

A well-handled customer departure can earn a future return, but a challenging departure closes that door. Click To Tweet

HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn More

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