What to do When a Customer Cancels Your Service

Published in Inside Nelio.

Nowadays subscription services have become one of the most popular business models. And the business market around WordPress is no exception. There are many companies that have switched to this SaaS model, in which we find automatic renewals at the end of each billing period.

Beyond the advantage for the entrepreneur or developer of being able to rely on recurring revenues (as opposed to the one-time payment option), choosing a subscription model allows you to really know how your customers use your products or services.

We’ve already discussed at length in this blog about the little information that the different marketplaces for WordPress plugins and themes give you about your users and the way they use your products. And here I include WordPress.org which, even though it is not a marketplace itself, it is used as one, and it is perhaps the most popular one.

Today I am going to focus on what we can do when one of our customers decides to say goodbye and cancels a subscription with us. Unfortunately, this is something that is going to happen to you, so what you have to do is have a plan and try to learn from it.

Learning From Your Customers

One of Nelio’s mottoes is that every support ticket is an opportunity. An opportunity to find out something that is not working correctly, to understand a use case we had not taken into account and may make sense, to better explain a functionality the user is unaware of, or even to transform a dissatisfied customer into a follower.

For a long time, we have been proud of the quality of the support we have been offering our users. Whenever it has been in our hands to help someone with problems with our plugins, even if the problem was caused by a third party, we have not hesitated to put all our efforts into solving each issue.

Besides being costly, it is also the best time to learn from our users. This way we can improve our products and services every day a little more. But support tickets should not be the only feedback channel from your users.

There is another key moment to learn from them. And, maybe because of fear of the feedback you may get or because you don’t want to face the harsh reality, this is something people don’t do as pro-actively. As you can imagine, I’m talking about the time when a customer cancels.

Take Advantage of Your Customers’ Cancellations

For a long time, at Nelio we had a small survey, created with Survey Monkey, in which we basically asked our customers the reason for their cancellation. Although we got very few responses, they allowed us, at least, to identify some of the causes.

We tend to think that, when a client stops paying us and cancels our services, it’s because they are unhappy with us. No one likes to hear bad things about themselves or their products. However, after changing our workflow and spending four months better analyzing cancellations, we have discovered that the causes can be quite diverse.

Our Workflow When a Customer Cancels

I am going to explain in detail what we do now every time a client has canceled their subscription to one of our services (mainly Nelio Content or Nelio A/B Testing ). Here are the steps in detail:

  1. Log in a spreadsheet some data about the canceled subscription, including:
    • The plan the customer was subscribed to.
    • Name and email address of the subscribed person, in addition to their country or language (if we have that).
    • How much the customer paid and how often, and if they had any discounts applied.
    • When the customer signed up, when they canceled, and when the service will be deactivated.
  2. Review the ticketing system we use to see if there had been any previous issues related to that subscription.
  3. Check our email history to see if they contacted us via email.
  4. Review our payment system to check if everything is correct or if the cancellation has happened for some external reason, such as a payment failure.
  5. Search subscription’s usage statistics on our cloud. Nothing complex here, simply the number of social messages sent per month during the months prior to the cancellation in the case of Nelio Content, or the number of A/B tests completed in the case of Nelio A/B Testing.

With all this, we have a clear view of the current state of that client. And we will use this information to try to contact the canceled person. However, there are some exceptions worth mentioning.

For example, if the customer had support tickets and it turns out that their problem could not be solved, we do not contact them. Although it happens rarely, there are times when, either due to lack of help from the subscriber or other factors that occur, it is impossible to solve the specific problem. So the cancellation of the service is unavoidable. Then, it is inconvenient to contact again the person who canceled.

And the same happens if we find a conversation in Nelio’s email in which the reason for the cancellation is clear and we decide that it is not necessary to contact them again. But beyond these two cases, we have the opportunity to use the available information to ask our customers why they’re leaving.

How to Ask a Client Why They Left

The contact method we use is an email. But we write each email manually by modifying a basic template we created, modifying it with the information we gathered about the client. For example, if we realized they didn’t send any social messages or run any A/B tests, we ask them why. And we do the same if they were apparently making proper use of our plugins but suddenly canceled.

The client is the only one who has the answer to our questions. We must take advantage of this email to make them see that we are interested in knowing the reasons in order to improve our services. But it shouldn’t seem like just another automatic email. Firstly because it isn’t, and secondly because in that case we would get much fewer responses since people are used to ignore that type of email.

Example of a real email sent to a person who canceled their subscription to Nelio Content.
Example of a real email sent to a client who canceled her subscription to Nelio Content.

In addition, we even try to write in the language of the recipient. This makes our effort appreciated and makes it easier for them to understand our questions and thus be able to answer them. For this we use the Deepl translator, which usually works very well and is much more natural and effective than Google Translate.

What Have We Achieved With All This?

To finish, let me explain the conclusions we have been able to draw from this entire process. The most important is that we have managed to get 25% of the canceled people we have contacted to respond to us. It may not seem like much, but note that they are people who no longer have any obligation to our service and still spent a few minutes responding to us. Thanks to this we get quality feedback that we are using directly to improve our services.

In addition, although we have been doing this for a short time, on some occasions we have managed to convince canceled customers to give us a second chance by reactivating their subscription to our service. We were missing out on these opportunities so far, so it’s worth trying this workflow because it pays off. Even more considering that all this does not take us more than an hour of work per week. Something we could even reduce if we automate it more.

We have also been surprised to discover that many cancellations are not caused by problems with our products, but because our products were used on websites that are no longer active or on projects that have ended. But the feedback we got is positive and in many cases the customer will use our products again in the future.

Therefore, don’t be afraid and contact the users who abandon you. The feedback you’ll get can be very useful and may even surprise you.

Featured image by Mostafa Mahmoudi on Unsplash.

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