When you think about Customer Experience I’m willing to bet you’ll typically think about the experiences customers have when evaluating a product or service, choosing and buying it, and then actually using it.
Canceling a service or subscription often doesn’t enter into that equation. That makes sense, we don’t want customers to quit. But if we define Customer Experience as the sum of all interactions between customer and company, then sometimes that includes saying goodbye.
And no one likes a messy breakup.
Unfortunately, there are still some companies out there who intentionally make it difficult to leave them, causing a frustrating Customer Experience in the hope of retaining a few of those customers who were already trying to leave.
Allow me to share a personal experience:
Some time ago I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal online. Signup was a breeze; just fill in an email address, credit card info, and billing address online and I was on my way.
The trouble came a few months later after I realized I wasn’t using my subscription enough to justify the cost.
Logged into my account page I searched and searched for a way to cancel my subscription with no success. Finally, I found a help center article stating that to cancel a subscription, I needed to make an actual phone call during office hours.
Now go ahead and call me a millennial for not wanting to make a phone call (you wouldn’t be wrong), but I don’t think to cancel any subscription should be made more difficult than buying it in the first place. And I’m not alone:
Trying to cancel my @WSJ online subscription was like trying to break up with a clingy girlfriend. I already made up my mind, please don’t make me listen to five sales pitches trying to make me stay.
— Tom Boeck ?️♂️ (@TomazBoeck) May 22, 2018
Why does it have to be so complicated to cancel my WSJ membership?! Sorry, but not paying 40$ a month just to read your paper…? ??
— Dylan Sloan (@DSloan999) May 26, 2018
I can close a bank account online but I have to call to cancel my WSJ subscription? Forcing me to talk on the phone neither builds goodwill nor makes me want to come back.
— Thomas Larsen (@tlarsendataguy) May 23, 2018
Now obviously this is a pain when trying to cancel, but also a reason for some to never subscribe in the first place:
I wonder if this is GPDR proof @WSJ . Not subscribing cause it’s too much of a pain to cancel… pic.twitter.com/0RYqYlDanz
— Joel Haasnoot (@webguy) May 26, 2018
Now I just singled out the Wall Street Journal because of my personal experience, but they are not alone in this. There are plenty of companies out there doing to the same.
Quitting a service is as much a part of the Customer Experience as any other interaction and should be treated as such. In the end, these practices reflect poorly on brands and can shift a customer’s perception from viewing your brand as reliable and trustworthy to downright scammy in an instant. Those views are shared with partners, friends, family, and anyone willing to listen online and that can’t be good for business.