6 Cancellation Flow Examples That Reduce SaaS Customer Churn (and How to Build One)

A good cancellation flow not only enables a smooth, positive exit for customers who are determined to cancel—it provides you with an opportunity to retain them by making a compelling case for why they should stay subscribed.

6 Cancellation Flow Examples That Reduce SaaS Customer Churn (and How to Build One)

A “cancel” button isn’t the end of a relationship with your customer. Instead, it’s an opportunity to find a new equilibrium that works out for both of you.

So if you’re looking for cancellation flow examples, what makes a good cancellation flow, and why cancellation flows matter, keep reading.

What are cancellation flows?

Cancellation flows involve an automated series of custom events that a customer completes whenever they begin the cancellation process of a SaaS subscription or product.

While it can include an exit or cancellation survey, an effective flow goes far beyond this. A good cancellation flow not only enables a smooth, positive exit for customers who are determined to cancel—it provides you with an opportunity to retain them by making a compelling case for why they should stay subscribed.

Why do cancellation flows matter?

Before we dive into specific examples, we need to understand the significance of a well-designed cancellation flow. When a customer decides to cancel their subscription, it's a crucial moment that can either mark the end of the relationship or open the door to a longer one. A thoughtfully-crafted cancellation flow can:

  1. Gather valuable feedback: Cancellation flows can provide insights into the reasons behind the cancellation, helping you identify areas for improvement.
  2. Offer solutions: Cancellation flows also provide you with an opportunity to present alternatives or incentives to encourage users to reconsider their decision.
  3. Ensure a positive experience: Even if they ultimately leave your product, users should have a seamless and positive cancellation experience, fostering goodwill that may lead to their return in the future.

Now, let's explore six cancellation flow elements that will get you the best customer feedback and give you the greatest chances at improving retention.

6 essential cancellation flow elements to gather feedback and improve retention

Feedback-driven exit surveys

Cancellation flows are the obvious destination when you want to deploy exit surveys. Whether or not the customer cancels, exit surveys provide invaluable data for your product and marketing teams. To paraphrase the over-quoted Peter Drucker, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

The benefit of placing your exit survey at the beginning of a cancellation flow is that you can then focus your efforts at scale. Technical problem? Try to improve things. Activation problem? Surface some relevant documentation.

A great exit or cancellation survey includes pre-written multiple choice questions, allowing customers to express the top reason they're cancelling. Here are a few basic survey options that perform well:

  • Doesn't fit my budget
  • The product wasn't working for me
  • Switching to another product
  • No longer have a need for the product
  • Other — this can allow customers to tell you about an issue you may not be aware of. Add a freeform text box along with it to collect the qualitative data.

Check out two examples of cancellation flow exit surveys from Google Stadia and Slack.

Cancellation flow offers: discounts, plan changes, extended trials, redirects to documentation, and more

When your subscribers move to cancel, sometimes all it takes to retain them is the right offer, pitched in the right way. This is why leveraging an exit survey early in your cancellation flow is always a good idea—the data you obtain in those surveys can be used to craft personalized narratives, offer up targeted discounts, extended trials, etc.

The immediacy of the incentive can present users with a compelling reason to stay subscribed. And if you keep a customer around for a little longer, it gives you more time to demonstrate the value of your product, making it more viable to then retain that user in the long run. 

Here are some broad offer types that perform well when targeted correctly:

  • Discounts—one-time, multi-month, annual, or lifetime (use sparingly)
  • Switch to a different plan (can also be a plan downgrade—see below for more)
  • Extend a free trial period
  • Redirects to support or customer success teams—via live chat, email, or phone
  • Surfacing bite-sized videos or docs that can help solve a particular problem
  • Links to Slack or Discord communities for your customers to ask for help or get more information for their needs

Below are two example offers from Adobe and LinkedIn.

Pause a subscription

Subscription pauses are incredibly effective for products who customer base operates on a seasonal, project, or otherwise "spiky" basis. Pausing subscriptions without outright cancelling it allows customers to automate a break for your product.

To make this effective, we recommend the following:

  • Cap pause duration to three months—customers can forget they paused their subscriptions past this point
  • Limit in-app functionality where applicable
  • Send periodic re-engagement reminders, showcasing new features, updates, or exclusive offers during the pause
  • Set their subscription to restart automatically
  • Communicate when their subscription is reinstated

Here's an example from Mailchimp:

Downgrade a customer to a lower tier

It’s better to have an existing customer pay you something rather than nothing. 

And if someone found your product valuable—depending on their customer profile—a cost-aware tier with fewer features might be effective in certain cases.

Here’s an example we liked from Asana:

Reinforce the value you delivered

FOMO is a pretty universal feeling. No one ever wants to feel like they’re missing out on something cool. There's a chance to use this feeling to your advantage during a cancellation flow—but we recommend using this sparingly and tastefully.

The goal here should simply be to remind users in a very genuine way of the investment that they’ve made in your product, what benefits they’ll lose if they choose to cancel, and the value your product delivered. You can do this by showing them how many credits or points they have left, what features they’ll no longer have access to, how their use of the product will change if they switch to a free tier, and any positive outcomes you can measure.

Here are some effective, non-icky examples of FOMO-driven cancellation flows: 

The double confirmation

This one seems almost absurdly simple, but you might be surprised by how effective it can be.

It might be worth it to double check a customer's decision. Right before the final cancellation step, after you’ve employed any other strategies or tactics you’d like to use, require the user to confirm once again that they actually want to cancel. In our data, we’ve seen a significant percentage of sessions where a customer backtracks from the cancellation point after this final double-check so that they can accept a previously-presented offer.

Here’s a perfect, simple example of the double check strategy:

How do you build an effective cancellation flow?

You could go through and create exit surveys, craft personalized incentives, figure out how to best leverage a ton of data, and build your own cancellation flow from scratch, hoping and crossing your fingers that it will be effective. 

But if you want to effortlessly set up a cancel flow that will help you lower cancellations automatically while making customers happier and driving more revenue, then you need Churnkey. When you use our platform, every cancellation attempt becomes an opportunity to craft a better relationship with your customer. And when you do that, you’ll build a bigger, better subscription business.

In less than an hour, our customer-obsessed team can turn your cancel button into a retention engine. We exist to make your subscription business more money while making customers happier. And there’s no crossing your fingers here… we know it works. On average, our customers increase LTV by 28%, boost MRR by 14%, and reduce active churn by up to 54%.

Are you ready to use the best cancel flow in the business?

Find out more with a demo or start combating churn now with a free trial!