Breaking up can be hard, but you make it so easy!
I had an experience a while ago that set my CX senses tingling, in all the wrong ways. After a long, mostly satisfactory, relationship with a service provider I’m going to call “John”, I needed to make a change. My reason for cancelling my subscription service had nothing to do with John. Sincerely, all my interactions with ‘him’ at every touchpoint had been good. Not “set my world alight good”, but at the very least, solid and reliable. So, to my mind, I was leaving with fondness and a thought of, “maybe one day I’ll want ‘him’ back…”
The response from John started off as expected, “What did I do wrong?” “Is there anything I can do to change your mind?” And then the cat and mouse game began. You know the one, where it becomes nearly impossible to cancel the service. You’re forced to jump through hoops on end, get passed along from pillar to post, only to land up back where you started. Why I ask? Why do they make is so hard to say goodbye? Don’t they understand that neglecting this customer experience touchpoint, will sour the possibility of you ever returning? After-all, us humans are fickle bunch. We don’t always know what we’ve lost until it’s gone.
So, I thought I’d pen a little break-up note to said provider:
Ending a long-term contract can be like breaking up… Something has changed, and we make the decision that it is time to let go and move on; but we have invested a lot of time and energy into this relationship. As humans, we struggle with change and want to be loyal. No matter how difficult a situation may be, it is hard to make, or take, that break.
It’s not you, it’s me
There are a thousand reasons to end a relationship, business or personal, and it often has nothing to do with you, John. I may have hit financial troubles, be moving to a different city or country, or I may just have fallen for a shiny new partner, promising me the world.
It’s over, but I still want to be friends
Even if you, John, let me down or increased the pressure (or pricing) or we had a bad moment, there is a shared history and memories of the good times just below the surface. In either case, leaving the one you’re with can be difficult and we may be uncertain if we are making the right decision. So, we approach the ending of the relationship with mixed feelings.
And here is where it can so easily go wrong… How you, John, take on “the talk” will be the final arbiter of our shared future. Will we be left with a sense of regret or relief at the decision we have made?
The 1988 power ballad
The easier the parting, the more difficult the decision. If you are fair and let me go with kindness and understanding, that is the memory I carry. When someone mentions your name, I remember the parting as sweet sorrow and speak kindly of you.
Over time, the reason I made the decision to leave becomes hazier and I hear the 80s hair band singing “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”… And if our circumstances change, or the new partner doesn’t live up to their promise? We regret leaving and feel safe returning, more loyal than we ever were.
Despite the CPA clearly laying out consumer rights with regards to the cancelling of long-term contracts, service providers like John too often find ways to skirt the edges of the law. The endless complaints on social media or review platforms, where people are still being charged for canceled services months later, or even being handed over or blacklisted, are appalling!
Service providers, listen up… I’ve said it before and I am saying it again, Customer Experience is about the feeling your customer has about you from the moment your eyes meet across a crowded room until long after the relationship ends. Ending a contract isn’t personal and putting your customers through Squid Game to free themselves will leave you with a depleted and resentful client pool. Set them free with enough care and ease that they think of – and speak of – you as the one that got away.
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