A Graceful Goodbye

little dove

I won’t let the door hit me on my way out

If you love somebody, set them free. It’s not just a Sting lyric, but also a wise CX philosophy!

Today was admin day, the day to deal with invoices, billing, etc. Leading a startup sometimes requires some adjustments, and thus I found myself faced with ending a couple of business relationships.

There is rightfully a lot of focus in CX regarding how customers should be treated throughout their lifecycle, but what most companies actually do is focus on the acquisition phase of the relationship. If there is a retention effort, it is often a ham-fisted attempt to force you into remaining a customer. This now viral example from Comcast is like watching a train wreck – you just can’t unsee it!

Check out this guide to learn how to build your own Customer Journey Map.

Many companies make it impossible to leave or cancel online, and obscure the correct number to call. If you eventually find a number, you have to plan a large chunk of time to sit on hold. In the case of my insurance company, Health Net, I was not surprised to hear the familiar “there is an extremely high call volume; your wait will be 10 minutes” (actually it was 22). Once I connected with a human being, I was told she couldn’t handle my request and that their IVR had the wrong information. Hope there is a work order in there somewhere to fix that!

About to bang my head on the wall to the beat of the hold music after 10 more minutes, another person comes on to say – you guessed it – I need to go online to download an obscure form, fill it in and fax it (who faxes anymore?) or scan and email it. BTW it will take 10 working days to process, so I will likely be billed in the meantime.

Oh. And there was no curiosity or concern as to why I was leaving, most likely because the customer service representative is being measured on keeping the call as short as possible.

Is it time for wine yet?

My next task was to cancel our CRM service, InfusuionSoft, because it isn’t working out. After Health Net, I thought, “well this is a CRM tool, so I’m sure it will be much easier.” Right.

I looked online for the cancellation process: nowhere to be found. I sent a standard “Contact Us” form to customer service and got a reply back saying that I had to call, and that a confirmation of cancelation would not happen until someone then called me back. If you’re keeping tabs at home, that’s three separate touches in order to cancel a cloud-based service.

So I called and got through to a generalized rep in customer care, who said that all they could do was refer the request to the cancellation department. They were quite backed up and it might take a few days. I politely asked for their number and they said, no, they don’t have a number. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. I asked for a supervisor, to no avail.   The rep did assure me that if I still got charged for the next month during this process, I would get a refund at a later date. Visions of dealing with my credit card customer service department should I have to contest a charge are now causing me to hyperventilate!

Luckily, InfusionSoft redeemed itself by coming back to me within a few hours and canceling my subscription. They even sent a well worded note with the confirmation. However, even though I got my desired result, the means to that end were painful and unnecessary.

Customer retention is not meant to be a blood sport, folks.

Now let’s look at a #sweetcx example. Canceling services does not just apply to the company, and so I was recently planning on cutting one of my wine club memberships. The tragedy! I placed a call to Gundlach Bundschu and sadly requested to cancel my account. The first thing the representative asked was “may I ask why?” Not wanting to talk about money, I simply said that my wine cellar was full and I couldn’t keep up with the frequency of delivery. The rep gently offered that they could hold my wine until I was ready for more, or they could put my account on hold for a while, or indeed that they could cancel me if I still wanted to. It was so nice to have some choices! I elected to put the account on hold rather than cancel, and as the rep signed off he said “we love having you as part of the GunBun family and are happy you’re staying with us.”

Learn more about why understanding your Customer Journey transforms your CX program. 

A few days later I got a lovely postcard noting that the wine shipments were put on hold. The card contained a number to call when I am ready to reactivate, as well as a special offer on an upcoming vintage that I could take advantage of when I reactivated. Now this is how you do save and winback!

People make changes for many reasons – why not create a strategy where you do the right thing?

Ask why someone is canceling. it might be something that is unavoidable, and in that event you should just cancel with grace and bid your customer a fond farewell. You never know when they might need you again! In the event that there is a problem with your service, be prepared to suggest solutions – preferably quickly and on the spot vs. a transfer to that scary ‘save team.’

  1. Provide the customer with a way to get back in touch with you should they want to resume or if they have further questions. Dedicate a winback team and some desirable offers to this process, and let the customer know you would love them back if they change their mind.
  2. Follow up with a survey – here is where you will get the most honest input about your products and services. Take the feedback to heart, plug it into your journey map and keep on learning from your customers!
  3. Finally, enable your people to facilitate the cancellation and do not penalize them for the lost revenue. Turn your winback effort into a positive interaction and earn yourself some good karma.

This may be the last interaction you have with this customer, ever. Yes it’s sad to see them go, but why make the interaction a painful and even angry one? Remember, your former customers can either refer you or slam you. Which one would you prefer it to be? If you love somebody, set them free. Thanks, Sting.

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