For any subscription company—whether it's SaaS, e-commerce, or anything else— tasteful customer cancel flows are the most underrated and under-utilized tools when it comes to churn reduction. Customer churn is always a concern for any subscription-based company.
And churn isn’t just a one-time hit — it’s a driving factor for recurrent revenue loss. And acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one.
User-friendly, customer-centric cancel flows can improve your subscription business, help you retain more customers, and reduce your overall churn rates.
Let’s talk about best practices and opportunities for customer cancel flows and how you can start using the best cancel flow in the business.
Make your customer cancellation experience easy
This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, you don’t want subscribers to cancel. But making it difficult for someone to cancel isn’t actually going to stop them from cancelling. It’s not going to help reduce churn and it’s certainly not going to lead to satisfied customers.
At the very least, if you make your cancel flow difficult, you’ve already increased the odds that customers will never come back and re-subscribe to your product. Worst case, irritated and dissatisfied customers could turn to social media or review sections to air their grievances about your unnecessarily complicated cancel flow.
And then there's the fact that making cancellations difficult is just not cool. Or ethical.
That’s why it’s vital to create a cancel flow that, ah, flows. It should create as little friction and take the minimal amount of time possible. If your subscribers leave happy, they’re more likely to re-subscribe in the future (especially if you’ve created effective winback campaigns) or, at the very least, recommed your product to others.
From our research—after seeing tens of millions of cancel flow sessions come through the Churnkey platform—cancel flows should never exceed five steps. The best ones offer something of value immediately.
How to provide value with cancel flows
The main focus of a good customer cancel flow shouldn’t really be cancellation — it should be retention. And the best way to retain customers is by providing them with real value. If you have a cancel flow that isn’t centered around value, then it isn’t going to be truly effective at retaining customers and stopping churn before it happens.
In a cancel flow, it’s vital to provide beneficial options that create true value for your customers. After all, if they’re trying to cancel, then they’re doing it for a reason. There’s some pain point that’s not being addressed or they've been unable or unwilling to activate for some reason. If you present them with a solution to that pain point during the cancellation process, then they’re less likely to leave.
Try to see your customer cancel flow as an opportunity to get to the point and to demonstrate real, personalized value to your customers. Many times, customers choose to churn because they’re having an issue within the product or are experiencing some type of confusion, which makes it nearly impossible to see the value. If you can address these issues during the customer cancel flow and resolve them, then you’ve already taken a huge step towards retaining that customer.
Ask for customer feedback
One of the most valuable things about a good customer cancel flow is the data you can collect and then leverage to reduce future churn. Once a customer reaches your cancel flow, you may not be able to save them (although we’ll give you plenty of strategies below that could help you do just that). But even if you can’t, you can still garner important information in the process.
If you don’t gather customer feedback in your cancel flow, then you’re missing out the chance to positively leverage churn and use it in future product development. And, much like your overall customer cancel flow, asking for feedback doesn’t need to be overly complicated. All you really need to do is ask one simple question: “Why are you leaving?”
Don’t ask too many questions
Too many questions overcomplicates your cancel flow and will actually work against you. Our data shows that after asking your first question about why they’re cancelling, every subsequent question drops your save rate by 6.7%. That means the more you needle them with unnecessary questions, the less likely you’ll be able to recover that customer further down your cancel flow.
So don’t ask too many questions. Ask the question you need to ask, and make sure you place it at the very beginning of your cancel flow. The feedback you receive will enable you to craft more personalized, targeted recovery attempts later in the cancel flow.
Remind them why they subscribed
But before you provide any personalized, targeted offers, it's essential that you take the opportunity to remind your customer why they subscribed to your product in the first place. This is a balancing act. Don't be manipulative or waste their time.
Instead, take this moment to remind your subscribers — gently — of the value your product provided, the investments they’ve made into your ecosystem, and what they they’ll lose if they click “cancel” (history, credits, data, etc.). The goal here is to genuinely remind them of the benefits you offer that they’ll no longer be able to take advantage of.
Here are some examples:
- 👬 Got a team plan? Pass in the count of team members on your customer's account. From there, when a single member launches the cancel flow, you can remind them how many other people in their organization will lose access if they leave.
- 📈 Speak directly to your veterans. We're all partial to nostalgia. If customers have been around for a while, you can easily remind them how long you've benefited from each other. This reminder can take the form of output metrics, time spent with your product, or time saved.
- 🤑 Display remaining usage credits or tokens. Usage-based pricing plans can create an internal economy within your product ecosystem. Remind churning customers how much usage they can still get out of your product and what they'll be losing when they leave.
Provide personalized, targeted offers
Roughly 15-40% of your subscribers will churn for completely preventable reasons that could have been eliminated with better communication or troubleshooting.
For instance, maybe they’re cancelling because they weren’t effectively onboarded and, as a result, didn’t get to see the true value of the product.
That’s why your cancellation survey is so important — you’ll find out where this breakdown happened and then be able to present them with a personalized, targeted offer that speaks directly to their problem.
We recommend the following offers:
- Shift your customer to a different pricing tier. If their issue is with the price of the product or reduced product usage, this can be an effective method for saving this account. Bonus points if you can offer "unlisted" or "secret" plans to reward your customers' loyalty.
- Provide a temporary discount. Short-term discounts can give customers the incentive that they need to keep their subscription and then discover the value of your product.
- Offer a subscription pause or free trial extension. If they’re an existing customer, offer them the option to pause their account, leaving the door open for them to resume billing automatically at a later time. If they’re a trialling customer, offer to extend their free trial — this will give your team extra time to make a better impression.
Ask them twice
It's an overly simple thing, but confirm with your customer that they do want to cancel. Being explicit with what happens next is important for setting clear expectations and for providing the peace of mind that you did cancel their subscription.
In our data, about one third of all cancel flow sessions results in a customer reaching the cancel confirmation screen and backtracking to accept a previously-presented offer.
Do you want to create effective customer cancel flows?
With Churnkey, you can lower cancellations automatically while making customers happier and driving more revenue. In less than an hour, you can turn your cancel button into a retention engine and reduce active churn up to 58%.