Tip: Add an in-app cancelation flow to increase retention

If you aren't allowing customers to cancel their subscriptions in-app you might be missing out on an opportunity to reduce churn. Boost retention by adding a cancelation flow that surveys users and offers them alternatives.

Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures saw an immediate 15% decrease in churn when one of his clients stopped requiring a phone call to cancel, and added an in-app cancelation flow instead. If you do it right, you'll be able to hold onto some of these customers and improve your product while you're at it. Plus, those who leave will do so on better terms. In the cancelation flow, start with a survey asking users why they're leaving. This info will help you iterate in a way that improves retention in the long run. Then offer them an alternative based on the reason they provided. For example, customers who aren't getting enough value out of the product could be bumped up to a tier with more functionality. But remember, these users are still high-risk for churn, so stay in touch.

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  1. 2

    Curious: At what point does this become more of a "dark pattern" than anything else?

    I love the idea, but I'm afraid of doing something annoying like Amazon prime's cancellation. After going through that hell, I honestly never wanted to use Amazon again (which is of course hard to stick to 100% haha).

    Definitely understand explaining value, asking why, etc, just wondering if there's a point where it becomes straight manipulative and, while it may save you a customer, it's not a good idea.

    1. 3

      Curious: At what point does this become more of a "dark pattern" than anything else? … just wondering if there's a point where it becomes straight manipulative…

      "Manipulative" and "dark pattern" imply deception, but no deception is taking place here.

      But maybe you can explain your discomfort further? Do you feel it is inappropriate to create experiences for users that might be "annoying," for example? And if so, how could a company ever justify practices of active persuasion like cold emails, follow-up calls, advertising, etc.?

      1. 2

        The comment wasn't meant as a negative reaction to your post at all :)

        Maybe it has something to do with annoyance level, and combining it with deception makes it worse?

        From going through Prime cancellation, it felt like a dark pattern to me because it felt like it was meant to be annoying. Like they purposely made it take longer than necessary, and possibly even purposely unclear (it's been a couple years since I canceled) how to continue with the action you meant to take.

        Another example would be Spirit airlines, which I have had the displeasure of using as well :-P. Even as a developer, I found it unclear how to take the default, non-upgrade option while booking. Buttons meant to upgrade looked like the default, and the non-upgrade option would be small text, buried, etc.

        I don't have a problem with a survey or mentioning upgrades, etc. Maybe if the survey is long, it's good to include a skip button (like a cold e-mail can just be deleted), and always make it clear how to continue with canceling?

        It would feel dark-ish to me if someone had taken pains to make their app user-friendly throughout, and then for canceling made it difficult for the sake of difficulty.

        1. 3

          Totally. The idea here is definitely not to pull a Spirit Airlines and make the flow confusing — good UX is key. It's important to be on good terms with users whenever possible (even after they leave). If done right, this can be an easy flow that gives you information and gives them options, without ruffling (m)any feathers.

        2. 3

          One alternative you could consider is to switch up the ordering:

          1. Make it relatively easy to cancel.
          2. Follow it up with retention tactics to get them to un-cancel.

          This has played out nicely on email a few times. A customer emails me to delete their account. I respond saying I have deleted your account. And then off-handedly say that we have this XYZ (deal, new feature, etc...) thing, so in case you are interested, we can bring back your account at any time.

  2. 2

    Interesting. I just had my first unsubscriber a few days ago since incorporating the ability to do so rather easily. I think trying to capture why they were cancelling is important. I have been unsuccessful in doing that so far. Then again, I'm following up via email personally (things that don't scale).

  3. 2

    Love it! One more thing I'd suggest, if your customer cancels and they are still within their payment period, let them "restart" their billing.

    I personally love it when a site offers me to restart the plan on the app.

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