Prevent Customers From Cancelling by Helping Them Succeed

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Having paying customers is an amazing feeling — recurring revenue, high engagement, predictable growth. Unfortunately, convincing people to sign up and enter their credit card information is just the beginning. Once you’ve hooked them, you need to focus your attention on keeping them. This might sound simple, but it’s not always straightforward — many are on the verge of cancelling their accounts.

Of all the customers headed for the door, the most dangerous are often the silent cancellers. Like carbon monoxide, their silence can be both deadly and unnoticeable.

Many times, these customers aren’t cancelling because of something you did. It’s not a change to your privacy policy, a data breach, or that your new logo offends their design sensibilities. Rather, it’s that they see the name of your company on their bank statement and can’t think of a reason to justify the expense anymore. They just don’t see the value, and let their accounts lapse.

This is a tragic situation that many companies find themselves in, often without a solution. They have a product that can provide value, but their customers aren’t seeing it. Worst of all, they only find out customers are unhappy after the account was cancelled.

If only there was a way that let you proactively reach out to them, find out their problems, explain how your services can help them, and get them excited about the future of working together. If only there was a tool that everyone had access to, that you could quickly use to start a dialogue with them.

Well, there is. Email is the silver bullet that will turn make customers go from apathetic to enthusiastic. To get started using email, there’s a few key lessons to learn.

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Be Proactive

It’s not enough to simply sit around and hope that a customer is going to email you with a list of features that they’d like ranked in order of preference, with a corresponding document explaining how likely they are to cancel if they don’t get those features. While we can all agree it would be great, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Instead, you need to be proactive. You need to get into the mentality that time is of the essence, and everyone is on the verge of cancelling. While it may seem dramatic, this mentality is key. Without it, you’re always going to be reactive, and you’ll be tossed all over the place. You’ll be operating in a marketplace that’s defined by what your competitors are saying, and not by the message you want to communicate.

Once you begin to proactively email your customers, they’ll notice and appreciate it. Your competitors will have a harder time stealing your customers, and your product will more closely align with what customers really want.

Best of all, these new conversations will also open the door to answering small questions customers have that will take them from being on the verge of cancelling to firmly in the “brand evangelist” category.

Be Willing To Change

Everyone that is in the business of creating great products and delivering excellent services has an idea for what the future should look like. They have features that they really want to build, and they have a rough notion of what’s at the top of their list for at least the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, many people pursue these internal plans so relentlessly that they lose focus of their customers’ needs. It’s important not just to move fast, but also to communicate with the people that are paying for your business to exist. It’s not enough to just send a quick line about a small new feature — it’s about starting a dialogue with the right motivations.

They need to know that their needs are important to you, that nothing is impossible if it means your customers will succeed, and that what they think truly matters to you because you’re in this fight together.

If you go into this with the right motivations, it will come across in how you talk with your customers. They’ll notice, and they’ll open up to you. With this new openness will come countless opportunities to help your customers succeed, and to make your products indispensable to their business.

Talk To Your Biggest Fans

Now that you’re in the mode of proactively reaching out to customers and are honestly listening to them, it’s time to evaluate whether or not you’re hearing from the right people. If you set out with the goal of preventing cancellations, it’s natural to think that you should reach out to people that you think are on the verge of cancelling.

While these people are important to hear from, make sure you’re also reaching out to the people you know won’t cancel. Not only does this keep the relationship warm, it also helps you learn what people really value in your products. You may think you know what people love about your product, but there are countless small things that help your customers succeed that you don’t know about.

After talking to a dozen of your most enthusiastic customers, you’ll begin to see small trends. There are two reasons that this information is valuable. First, it informs you of what features should be closely watched. Second, it gives you information that you can then proactively share with customers that are more likely to cancel. Often, these small factoids can make the difference between a silent cancellation and a renewed subscription.

You’re Talking To People, So Talk Like a Person

One of the biggest mistakes people make when talking on behalf of their company is sounding too corporate. We’ve all received that customer support response that sounds like it was pasted from a form. While it’s great to be consistent, it’s equally important to realize that you’re having a conversation with a real person.

With that in mind, it’s essential to be personable. You’re emailing people to ask what their most pressing problems are, so you need to sound like a person and not a survey. You’re trying to start an honest conversation, not process 75 tickets by lunchtime.

To illustrate this, imagine that these people are visiting you for a therapy session, and you’re their therapist. You wouldn’t sit there with a checklist — you’d talk to them like a trusted confidant. You’re already invested in making sure this relationship succeeds, now you just need to sound like it.

Be Consistent

Between proactively emailing people, talking to a wide variety of customers, and changing how you present yourself in emails, you’ve got a lot on your plate. It’s important to not lose focus.

The final lesson to keep in mind is that consistency is key. If you’re only emailing people every two months and it’s radio silence in-between, you’re going to have problems. As others have noted, if you’re not emailing consistently and with a predictable frequency, you shouldn’t expect great results.

When you do start to send out emails more consistently, you’ll notice a few big changes. First, customers will be more likely to respond. Second, you’ll start to build up rapport with your customers, leading to more open and honest conversations. Lastly, your customers will feel more comfortable when they want to proactively reach out to you (before they cancel).

Final Thoughts

Between a more proactive and personable attitude, having open and honest conversations, reaching out to a wide variety of customers, and consistently focusing on the success of your customers, you’ll start to immediately see your cancellation rate drop.

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