Hiding Your Unsubscribe Isn’t a Retention Strategy

We evaluate a lot of services so that we can write about them on the blog or utilize them for our clients. One technique we’re starting to see more and more is services that allow you to easily start an account, but they lack any means of canceling it. I don’t think this is an oversight… and it immediately turns me off to the company.

I spent about 15 minutes this morning doing just that. A social media monitoring service offered a free trial so I signed up. After about 2 weeks, I began getting emails that warned me that my trial was almost over. After 30 days, I started to receive daily emails that told me my term had expired and had a link to where I could upgrade to a paid account.

The email’s unsubscribe link brought me to an account login page. Grrr… having to login to unsubscribe is another pet peeve of mine. Since I was logging in anyway, I figured I would cancel the account. I went to the account options page and the only options were different upgrade options – no cancel option. Even in the fine print.

Of course, there was also no means of requesting support. Just an FAQ. A quick review of the FAQs and no information on canceling the account. Thankfully, an internal search of the FAQs offered the solution. A cancel link buried in an obscure tab within the user profile.

This reminds me of the newspaper industry… where you can often sign up online, but you have to call and wait on hold to speak to a customer service representative to cancel your subscription. And… instead of canceling it, they try to offer you other subscription options and gifts. I’ve been on the phone with these people where I’ve been so upset that I just repeated “cancel my account” over and over until they complied.

Folks, if this is your retention strategy, you’ve got some work to do. And, you’re masking problems with your product or service by obscuring your true customer retention. Stop it! Canceling a product or service should be just as simple as signing up for one.

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