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Subscription Strategy5 min read

How automated cancelation flows can actually increase customer retention

Rethinking subscription cancellation flows

The power of cancellation flows in customer self-service

It is a paradox of subscription based businesses that by thinking carefully about cancellation flows, and putting consideration into their design and automation, you can actually use them as a positive process for customer retention. It can even impact your ability to attract customers through reputation and knowing that they are not trapped. 

Automation has created a seismic shift in almost all businesses, but particularly SaaS companies, which hinge on consistency, efficiency and driving down operational costs in order to maximize cumulative customer volume. Incorporating automation into cancellation flows means creating a series of carefully considered steps that take customers through a supportive process between hitting the "unsubscribe" button and actually canceling their subscription.

The goal is not to make it difficult for customers to cancel their subscription—that will almost certainly increase their chances of leaving and not coming back. The aim of an automated cancellation flow is to understand the customer, where their needs are not being met, and offer something that's worth staying for. The information it provides will almost certainly help you to improve your product or service for other or future customers, and may even help to support your sales process, making sure you're attracting customers who will really benefit from what you offer and ensuring the information you provide is accurate. 


Here are 3 key ways automated cancellation flows
can increase customer retention and support your business success.

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A cancellation flow that attracts the right customers

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Validate and improve product-market fit

A well-designed cancellation flow can actually help attract the right customers to your business. 

It does this by tracking customer pain points and providing you with an ongoing, detailed summary of information that allows you to monitor the temperature of customers in order to understand what's wrong and why they might be leaving.

This will enable you to do two things:

Gruppe 158088-1Implement continuous improvements to help prevent existing and future customers from wanting to enter the cancellation flow in the first place.

Gruppe 158089-1Refine your marketing, sales, products and other customer touch points in order to make sure the people you're selling to are people who need your product or service. If your product doesn't solve their problem then they won't stay no matter what the incentive. 

Crucially, a system that's designed to gather and process this information will also make it easier for you and your team to absorb vast amounts of data and implement resolutions in a relatively hassle-free and much more accurate way than manual assessment.

A cancellation flow that helps you increase revenue 

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Up- and cross-selling through cancellation flows

A carefully considered cancellation flow that's been designed with customer retention in mind might not only help you keep your customers, but actually increase their monthly spend with you as well.

When customers enter the cancellation flow, the opportunity to gather information is also an opportunity to upsell or cross sell. You may find that their reason for leaving is simply that they haven't got the right service from you or the right level of service. 

Alternatively, if customers want to discontinue because of a high price point, you can offer them a downgrade. If they are going to have a period of time when they don't need the service, then a pause option might be a good idea. They may actually find that one of those options solves an issue for them and is less hassle than canceling and rejoining. 

By understanding the customer better you create an opportunity to create highly personalized connections at critical moments in the customer journey. It's also a great way to gather information that can be used to help train team members and contribute to the ongoing improvement of your service.

A cancellation flow that helps you reconnect with customers

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Balancing automation and personalization

There's an irony in the idea that a highly technological process can help you connect with customers on a human level, but an automated cancellation flow is all about understanding your customers better, and giving them a greater sense of control and support. 

Sometimes the challenge is that they are not aware of how to maximize the benefits of your system, in which case it's a chance to provide learning support now or for future customers. If this is something you're able to provide, it can be a fantastic, low cost, high value way of engaging with customers, showing your level of support and meeting human needs.

By creating an exit survey that offers insights into the human experience about why they chose to cancel, then you can create the right message to improve your targeting as well as retargeting efforts to bring them back.

A cancellation flow should be created to constantly aggregate churn data into easy-to-ready reports. This provides you with multiple touch points so you understand how your business is working and how it can work better—both for you and your customers. Feedback might inform you about missing features, whether the pricing is right, whether there's an issue with the system functionality or it may give an insight into customers' overall product satisfaction.

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A great cancellation flow also helps to leave the door open
for the customer to return, feeling supported in their decision
making and retaining a positive relationship.
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Cancellation flows & customer retention

Turning cancellations into opportunities

By automating the process through a system that offers pre-built components for cancellation journeys, instead of having customers go through a sales rep, you will be more accurate in the information you gather, and crucially more systematic in how you process the feedback. This is done through rules that tailor cancellation journeys to customer segments and hooks that notify your team about specific elements that help them reconnect with customers before they churn. 

With modern technology you have a wealth of capabilities available that can help you create a cancellation flow that's actually positive for your customers and your business, helping you gain long-term competitive advantages, build a sustainable brand and improve profitability over time.

keylight's dedicated subscription platform focuses on customer journeys that are designed to support the success of your business.