As a customer service representative, you'll have to handle customers who want to downgrade their accounts.

You might feel pressure to try to talk them out of it. In fact, your company might even have a script you have to run through with these customers.

And I know what you're thinking -- "But I'm not a salesperson?"

The great news is that there are several ways to make this conversation easier for customer service reps who don't have sales experience.

In this post, let's discuss how you can respond to an account downgrade before you lose the customer.

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1. Tell the user what tools and features they'll lose.

When you're talking to a customer who wants to downgrade their account, it's important to be upfront about the features and tools they'll lose.

This doesn't necessarily have to sound like a script where you ask, "Are you sure?"

Instead, it could be a conversation that sounds like, "Okay, no problem. We just wanted to let you know about the tools and features that will be shut off when you downgrade your account."

After hearing what they'll lose, customers might decide to change their mind or ask to talk to a sales representative to find out about possible discounts.

2. Make it easy by providing an excellent customer experience.

There's nothing that customers hate more than a requirement to call and talk to your customer service before downgrading their account.

When customers sign up or purchase from you, it's important to make it apparent that canceling or downgrading their account will be easy.

Knowing this information upfront will create a positive experience, and could help customers be less likely to downgrade because of the loyalty they've formed through that positive experience.

3. Analyze why customers are downgrading.

A great way to prevent account downgrades in the future is to understand why customers are downgrading in the present.

When a customer chooses to downgrade, your company should send them a survey and ask for their feedback. It's important to learn why people are downgrading so your service reps can dispel any of those objections during a downgrade conversation.

A few reasons why customers might downgrade is because the tools they were receiving in the higher package weren't worth it, or they had a negative experience with your company.

The only way to improve this is to provide a positive experience on the way out. Customer service reps should make this process easy and painless so customers might come back in the future.

4. Communicate what happens to their data and information.

One of the main questions that customers have, when they're downgrading their account, is what will happen to their data and information that's stored in your software.

When a customer service rep is discussing an account downgrade, they should communicate what will happen to that information, so the customer can make a more informed decision. Hopefully, this information will help them decide to keep their account with the same package.

Then, a service rep can get feedback about why they wanted to downgrade their account and see if they can give any incentives, discounts, or provide help on those objection points.

5. Offer discounts when necessary.

At the Ritz-Carlton, customer service reps have a discretionary fund of up to $2,000 a day to provide an excellent customer experience. You might think that's over the top, but it empowers employees to provide a positive experience during conversations around account downgrades and more.

While your company might not have the budget to do that, it's important that your service reps are empowered to make decisions that will improve the customer experience.

For example, if a customer is about to downgrade their account, your service rep can offer discounts and do whatever they can to provide an exceptional experience. This type of service might make customers rethink whether they want to downgrade their account or not.

6. Make it clear how to downgrade an account.

One of the most frustrating customer experiences I've had is when I'm trying to figure out how to downgrade or close an account when there's no information on the website on how to do that.

It should be clear and easy for customers to figure out how they can downgrade an account.

For example, here's HubSpot's knowledge base article on downgrading from a paid subscription.

Providing this information will put customers in a better mindset and make them feel better about downgrading their account because they know it'll be easy to do and even easier to sign back up if they want to.

7. Have a customer success manager reach out to valuable customers.

The best way to respond to an account downgrade from high-value customers is to have those high-value customers working with a customer success manager.

A customer success manager will be able to help your customers succeed so that they don't want to downgrade their accounts. Additionally, this will provide loyalty, so if your customers want to downgrade their account, they'll reach out to their customer success manager first.

In a perfect world, customers wouldn't downgrade their accounts and you could retain all your customers. Since that's not possible, it's important to make the process easy and seamless, communicate with your customers, and offer value so they don't want to downgrade. Your service reps should be empowered to provide an excellent experience regardless of if your customers are downgrading their accounts or not.

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Originally published Jul 9, 2021 8:00:00 AM, updated July 09 2021

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Customer Satisfaction