First impressions matter.
You've already heard this hundreds of times, especially if you work in a customer-facing role. But now, it is time to add a new phrase to that: Goodbyes matter more.
When a customer decides to leave your business, how you say goodbye to them can have a huge impact on your future business.
As a Customer Success Manager at HubSpot, my entire job revolves around helping my customers succeed. I'm measured on my customers seeing success, so when someone requests to cancel, it can feel personal, and it's always disappointing. Customer retention is incredibly important to any business -- and to individual employees' bottom lines.
No matter how amazing your product and service are, some customers are going to leave. So how should you react to a customer leaving? With grace and gratefulness.
Customers stop using your product or service for a myriad number of reasons: budgets get cut, new leaders are brought in, changes in business strategies, etc. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do to grow your business better is to make sure the goodbyes are as painless as the hellos.
You should do this not only because it's the right thing to do for your customer, but also because it's the right thing to do for your business. That way, you'll learn valuable insights you can use to maintain future customer relationships, instead of burning a bridge. In this blog post, we'll discuss the steps you should take when a customer decides to stop working with you to make the most out of the loss.
3 Tips for Saying Goodbye to Customers the Right Way
1. Listen to the 'why.'
No matter the customer, make sure that every account leaving your business feels heard and appreciated. Even if you disagree with a characterization for why they are leaving (for example, if the customer says "the software didn't generate leads for me the way I was promised it would"), you must attempt to understand why the customer thought this in the first place.
Customers who are canceling have a unique perspective that you can use to bolster future customer relationships. What could your business do better? Could anything have stopped them from canceling?
HubSpot recently launched several new products at our annual industry event, INBOUND, and some of these products were created from conversations HubSpot had with customers who were canceling. Don't miss out on the chance to improve, and seize every opportunity for feedback -- even if it takes place as your customer is walking out the door.
2. Say 'thank you.'
When a customer is leaving, you have the chance to get some of the most valuable feedback you can get from a customer. The customer is helping your company improve by telling you why they are leaving, and they've given you their time, money, and advocacy over the time they've been with you. You need to take the time to thank them for that.
Not only should you thank the customer for the feedback, you should also thank the customer for just being your customer. Consumers have a lot of options, and while they may be choosing a different option now, at one point they chose you. Show your appreciation for their business.
Making customers feel appreciated, even in the face of cancellation, could determine if they still recommend you to friends and colleagues they're a fit for … or if they disparage you on public-facing customer review sites.
3. Leave the door open.
Being customer-centric means always putting the customer first, and this mentality does not change when a cancelation request comes in.
When a customer chooses to leave, it is not necessarily goodbye forever -- it is a goodbye for now. Why would you slam the door on a customer leaving with an awkward or brusque email, when you could leave it open for them to return with a grateful goodbye? Make sure to let your customer know that you appreciate the years of their business, and that they will always have a home at your company should they choose to return.
Your business' relationship with a customer doesn't end when the customer stops using your service. Word of mouth has never been more important for businesses to grow, and a former customer can speak positively or negatively about you, and how you say goodbye will have a huge impact on their overall impression and portrayal of your relationship.
Goodbyes are not the new hellos, but they can represent a positive new beginning.
To learn more, read about different conflict management styles next.
Originally published Oct 9, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021