I cancelled Basecamp today, because it didn't fit with my workflow, and the whole thing was easy. So much so, I would probably be using it again in the future (I work mostly by myself, need a "master todo list" and with many different teams, Basecamp doesn't fit this working style, but nothing I've tried does). I'll recommend Basecamp to larger teams, and part of that is the exit.
Here's what Basecamp did:
* on their monthly receipt email, they have a link directly to the cancel option.
* They remind you to get your data on the way out, and give a link, right there, to go get it
* They give you your data
* They cancel straight away, and ask if it's ok to survey you (optional).
After reading the book It doesn't have to be crazy at work (https://basecamp.com/books/calm ) I understood the mentality perfectly. I wish them all the best for their product.
Had the same experience with Basecamp, except after cancelling, circumstances changed and now we're paying customers. It's not common to encounter a company these days that thinks the customer experience is more important than the quarterly revenue numbers.
Todoist is another such company. I tried their premium plan a while back and it wasn't what I was looking for. It was remarkably easy to cancel. Work changed, and I didn't hesitate to buy a subscription.
They also talk about this philosophy in their earlier book Getting Real (which I highly recommend, one of the best product books I've read): respect your customers by making it easy for them to cancel and take their data with them and avoid the dark patterns so many companies use with cancellation.
You might be an exception. If you leave a service, you probably will never return. It might still be more profitable to just make sure the customer stay as long as possible by creating barriers to leaving.
People leave services then return to them later all the time.
I've lived one place and needed an internet connection, moved in with someone so I didn't need an internet connection, moved again and I needed a connection again.
I've used Trello, closed my account in preference for Jira, then later in a different job with different needs used Trello again.
Hell, for a lot of products I'd say that former customers - who have a proven need for the thing the product does, and a proven willingness to pay for a product that does it - are probably the single demographic most likely to be future customers.
But for the rest of my life, if someone asks me about X, I'll remember the experience and give my opinions about it.
And our remembrance of a thing is heavily weighted by the last or most recent part of the experience.
Businesses will go to any lengths to get a good review on Yelp or whatever, but are happy to permanently contaminate the experiences of every single one of their experienced customers by making it really hard and painful to leave. This is crazy.
But that's so short-sighted. There are other things to consider. Word of mouth is powerful, and if you make it difficult people are going to remember that and tell their peers/friends/coworkers/whoever. And what's going to happen if you decide to pivot, create another product, or add additional value? If you made it so difficult the first time around why would I give it a second chance?
If you make it hard for me to leave, I'm less likely to come back. If you make it hard for me to leave, I won't recommend you to my friends. If I hear that you make it hard for me to leave, I'm less likely to sign up in teh first place.
Pretty much this. In the past I've signed up to NowTV (UK streaming service) solely to get Game of Thrones for about two months of the year. They make it really easy to stop and start your packages. If it was hard to leave I'm not sure I'd sign up and would be more inclined to consider "alternative avenues"...
The ironic example of an organisation that made it hard for me to leave was Which?, which is similar to Consumer Reports I think. It's a self declared "champion of consumer rights" etc. I signed up when we were buying a load of appliances for a new kitchen. I had to google how to cancel my subscription and involved sending an email to the right address and eventually someone would get round to it. Ridiculously hypocritical.
Possible it’s changed since you cancelled but when I signed up last month the email address (email@example.com) was printed in the jacket around the first magazine they sent. When I emailed to cancel I got a response literally within minutes (at 0044 — guessing its outsourced) confirming that they’d got my request and would process it.
Surprisingly painless, given their website says you need to phone .
Speaking of GOT, I know for sure I'd love it to death given I've been through LOTR some years ago but I'm so afraid it'll get me addicted and I won't do shit until I'm done with the 6-7 seasons (idk how many there are)
Thx for the example. Surely we can learn from it. But as I mentioned above, I do see the value in it for those who do it in a dying industry. Obviously value for them, not for the end consumer — I naturally don't stand up for doing that given what I written in the article. It's as if they're trying to cling to every last penny they could get in the short-term because there's no more long-term
Exit strategies have become an important architecturual requirements when we buy systems. I know this article is pointed at consumers, and the comparison to buying clothes is excellent, but it’s actuallly a big thing in modern enterprise as well.
We buy systems we know are going to die. Sometimes they even die because the supplier build something completely new, but mostly it happens when we go to the competition. In either case we still need to be able to migrate our data and business logic seamlessly, and the companies who can’t show us an exit-strategy up front, putting it to contract 4-5 years before we need it, are much less likely to get our business.
Late 90s/early 00s, there were companies that I bumped into that would lock a site's data and resources up so a customer couldn't leave.
Because of this, one of the first features I build in my CMS was a full export function. All your templates, all your data and all your files.
Why? Because when you put money, time and effort into building a site you want your clients to feel good about this decision in every way. I don't want people to even _feel_ trapped, even if they aren't.
Trapping people breeds animosity, I don't see how it could ever help. But I am not sure that providing an RMA with every purchase is even needed if you can get them one easily enough if they ask. Maybe I missed something in this article?
But this is it about the RMA — why have them ask instead of facilitating it? They'd ask, it takes some minutes online, then they send it digitally — takes a working day or two.
Here's what I think it's been going through their mind. Probably (idk, I'm not the owner of Asos or another big retailer) they wanted to avoid the situation in which someone says "fuck it, it wasn't that expensive anyways, I'd rather keep/donate the clothes rather than return them" - and then never shop again
As opposed to "okay, returning takes 30 minutes less because I have the return labels" which, in turn, can mean more business. Because the relationship is trying to be built
I am certainly not going to defend a situation I am unfamiliar with.
My thought was simply that through the years of online shopping I have never seen a return label in a package that I can recall, but getting an RMA has rarely been an issue. (we are careful where we shop though)
If these guys are making RMA's hard that is totally different.
Edit: I may be confusing RMA (a request) with an actual "shipping label".
The current monthly recurring charges thing and making it difficult to cancel is similar to the hard, six hour-plus your purchase of a car at a dealership. If I had to go through that with, say, a grocery store or even a restaurant I’d never go back to either. The only thing that makes the hard sale remotely feasible for a car retailer is the infrequency of purchasing a car.
I've never bought a car from a used car yard or new car dealership, so I can't talk from experience.
In Australia, residential real estate sales contract have a mandatory 28 day minimum cooling off period. I don't know anything about commercial real estate, so can't comment on that.
In a way it makes some sense that the other large purchase(s) in life should have a somewhat protracted sales experience. If you could walk in to a car sales yard and just buy a car chip and pin style, I suspect things could go downhill quite rapidly.
I haven't really thought this through very much, so I'm wide open to head different perspectives.
I ordered my last two cars online. The more recent one was delivered to my house. I spent a few minutes signing paperwork and we were done. There’s no reason the experience has to be anything more than that.
I've heard that a lot of dealerships are willing to do it if they think that you won't actually buy it in person (i.e. deliver the car or lose the sale). I'm not sure there's a set formula for convincing them of that, though.
That's exactly what I'm advocating against! I do see this happening every time in dying industries: when they know it as well (they do, trust me), it so happens that they're clinging onto every single penny they can do. And I understand why.
For what is worth, I recently told Verizon FiOS I'm moving out of the country and they let me cancel without any hesitation. They'll sneakily try to send me one more months bill from what I've read online but other than that it is pretty straight forward.
Comcast though in most places is in monopolistic or oligopolistic stance - it's either the only way to have decent internet, or one of the two/three which are equally bad on service. Thus, no incentive to do better.
hahaha, just created mine yesterday and I didn't know that. I don't think it's as bad when all they require of you is account name and password (so no data to be sold, presumably) and it's free — I do get the "irony" though
I think the recommended method of "closing" an HN account is to change the password to a long random string that you don't record anywhere. If you want more than that, it likely opens up a possibility of abuse.
This is all fine and good when someone's writing words about it on the internet, but anyone in this discussion who has built / is building a product knows that you're constantly triaging. And when you are triaging, the last thing you are going to prioritize is spending eng resources on a great experience for cancellation. I see some comments here with things like "if it's hard for me to cancel, I'll likely never X again." Well, the stats show you're not going to anyway even if we made it seamless.
While that is true, it seems many companies spend eng resources specifically to create a shitty cancellation experience. It's not just that they could make it better with some effort, it's that they had to work hard to make it that bad.
it's true. it's easy to talk theory and harder to put it in practice. but then again, I wrote the article having in mind a conversation between me and the tech company that has a healthy amount of captured value (i.e. profits, in direct speech) — they can afford to devote resources on the long tail of profitability
but just like the other answer to your comment, it's more about when companies spend time to make it hard. Like those people you may have seen in your life who are living through hell — but it's a certain level of hell that can't be achieved without their effort.
what's your industry, if you feel like sharing? competitive, by chance?
I tend to think exactly the opposite. When I try to cancel I want to see a page that lets me cancel, not a survey to ask why I'm cancelling. It feels like a last ditch effort from a clingy, depressive/low-self-esteem lover.
It still comes across as clingy, but it'd be a huge improvement over putting it before.
I've seen a few sites that don't make it clear that you have successfully cancelled and act as though the survey is still required, so don't do that. Make it clear the user has finished cancelling and this is an extra step they can take if they'd like.
That kind of survey's without a doubt annoying. Another thing I advocate for is getting 1-on-1 with the customer (as a CEO/Founder). If I'd get a direct email from that person that has a chance of not being pre-written (sometimes you can't tell, gotta give benefit of doubt), then hell yes I'll tell you what it is that got me out. Even if I hate you.
Caring is important, even if you're caring about your business in the grand scheme of things
I recently tried going through my saved passwords in chrome and closing down accounts I don't really want anymore.
The overwhelming majority of sites that have some kind of information about me do not have options to close accounts directly through the website. I was under the impression it was illegal to prevent someone from closing an account / hold data indefinitely, so I have to assume there's some way to call in or email to have this done, but any additional outreach just feels like giving them more information about myself and I'd rather just ghost.
it might be illegal but since there's no such thing as an internet police, who can be there to check every single website. In the grand scheme of things, I do believe that nature does its own thing and eventually these businesses will be cleared away
Retentions is part of a short-term-thinking culture that has become pervasive among US businesses.
You use dark patterns/make it hard to cancel that might help you this quarter but ultimately you're dragging your business's reputation through the mud. Once those customers leave they aren't likely to return ever.
What's interesting is that businesses KNOW THIS, it isn't some secret voodoo, they know aggressive retention strategies result in long term dissatisfaction. But the way upper tier compensation is structured many executives can ride the short bump to bonuses, then get the gold parachute out the door as things implode.
In essence bosses are current incentivized to burn long term viability for short term bumps, and this is just one of many side-effects.
When companies spend time to make it hard for you to unsubscribe it's hell. Like those people you may have seen in your life who are living through hell — but it's a certain level of hell that can't be achieved without their effort.
In the aftermath of the killing of Google+, I've been thinking that if I ever started a social network, one of my main advertising features would be that you would always be able to get all of your information out, and set up shop elsewhere. Ideally, the code base would be open source, so they can just deploy their own server, upload their data, and continue like nothing changed.
Of course the real lock-in with social networks is the connections with other people there, which is why everybody is staying on Facebook despite its universally agreed awfulness. To fight that, you need something like Hubzilla's nomadic identity.
Seeing the OP relentlessly defend his use of the word SJW in this thread is the most entertaining thing I've read today. I have to applaud all the commenters who tried to do the right thing and explain to him his mistake. Yet the guy can't take a hint!
Now that we have the GDPR law I would almost think a clear exit experience would be necessary to truly comply with the law as well. An EU user should be able to request her user to be deleted together with her data. At this point you might as well make it a nice button on your service's profile administration page.
This is definitely a nice sentiment, and i have encountered push-back at work for wanting to provide users with good exit experiences. The analogy to shipping labels is apt, and i also like to think that keeping users hostage / locked-in to your ecosystem will lead to worse consequences in the future for your product.
I wanted to provide one bit of close critique on a small part of the post:
> And look, I’m no social justice warrior (or so I hope) to go and bash people on the internet for whatever they’ve done wrongfully.
yikes. General suggestion for technical bloggers: please don't make vague references to internet culture wars (even in passing) in your posts unless they are central to your thesis.
This kind of stuff is at best distracting, and at worst can cause major misunderstandings. For me it engenders a certain kind of distrust: is the author trying to purposefully rile me or anyone else in their audience? It feels quite unprofessional as a whole.
It stuck out to me too as something which didn’t really add anything to the content, and certainly seemed to entail some culture war signalling. Maybe something like keyboard warrior would have been more suitable.
Thx for the comment. Maybe we have to go through an unpleasant experience once to understand what you’ve resonated with from the article and what I wrote. Or maybe multiple times. Who knows
Regarding the quote, what I meant was that I’m no social justice warrior to go on and leave 1-star reviews to that company because they didn’t cancel my subscription.
It’s just that I’d rather build more, instead of spending time to destroy what someone else did. Or, I’ve heard stories of people buying thousands of negative reviews, thus destroying reputations
I write as I’d be speaking and I use a lot of relaxed language. Sometimes it sets people off because it’s not professional and I understand, but the core of value is there (or at least I’m trying to make it so).
Thx for your comment! Any parts that stood out for you besides this one?
Since other commenters are not getting through to you, let me put it differently: by using this particular term, you've just taken a side in an ongoing sociopolitical conflict. This conflict is kind of huge on the Internet these days, so a good chunk of your audience knows about it, whether through participating or hiding from collateral damage. Unless you want to participate in this turmoil, you should never do that.
Real-world analogy: imagine you're a a businessman in a real-world place that has suddenly gone to war for some reason. Even though the shootouts and shellings are happening elsewhere, you probably don't want to wear what happens to be insignia or flag or the holy symbol of one of the sides. Not only would that risk one side shooting you for misappropriation, and the other for being an enemy symphatizer, your customers would probably not want to be anywhere near to you, lest they get shot by association. Doesn't matter that the symbol is just a cross, or just a bird. What matters is that there are two sides willing to beat other people up over it.
Or, put yet another way: you're poking a dragon. Don't. Especially if you're not getting anything out if it.
The term “social justice warrior” doesn’t refer in modern parlance to people who leave bad reviews for SaaS products. It’s a term referring to a particular conflict in American culture/politics and just detracts from any point you’re trying to make.
Surely SJWs are not only in the US. And let's leave what we know aside for a moment — wouldn't I be addressing a social issue and looking for justice in a hostile (warrior) way because of something that happened to me?
I give the example in the blog post about a .wordpress.com website that was made to boycott the said service. That means people are after you
Given that you have come here, one would assume, for the feedback, and that you self proclaim to run an experiences design agency that specialises on helping tech CEOs reduce user churn, it might pay to closely consider the feedback
you're getting here rather than repeatedly dismissing it with your comment leaving aside what we know for a moment.
It seems unlikely the middle 90% of readers are going to approach everything they read with all of their existing presumptions completely suspended.
Your HN bio then goes on to state:
We believe experiences are not only the reason why users choose not to leave but also what generates word of mouth. We’re building a credo around this belief — https://chagency.co.uk/blog* (emphasis mine).
From my perspective, it hurts your credibility to appear to be acting disingenuously.
Opinion: your reference to social justice warrior is fairly well unnecessary.
To put it in perspective for you, the term SJW or Social Justice Warrior is a derogatory term designed to insult it's target applicant. You are essentially using a slang term incorrectly and trying to defend it by using it's literal translation. It has no place in technical writing and makes you look at best a bit silly, and at worst, a willing participant in a silly internet subculture that has its bedrock in juvenile hate and antagonistic behavior from both sides.
I wanted to add that I otherwise really enjoyed the article and agree with the sentiment. The outgoing experience can be the difference between me recommending a service or not. It's about maintaining respect for the user, and not burning the bridge at the very last opportunity.
> wouldn't I be addressing a social issue and looking for justice in a hostile (warrior) way because of something that happened to me?
> I think we're losing the point here
The point of this thread is that in the real world, the actual use of the term "SJW" is overwhelmingly by conservatives using it to dismissively label liberals, and using the term suggests a blatant political alignment that detracts from the substance of the article.
That's not really what "social justice warrior" means - generally speaking, it's a term used by people on the political right to describe (and generally disparage) people on the political left who talk a lot about identity politics, etc.
It's a politically loaded term that, regardless of your position on the subject, looks a little bit odd in an article about user offboarding.
And yet another slight different angle, in case it helps :-) Sometimes you feel strongly about a topic and so when you write about something that tangentially refers to it, it is very tempting to express that reference. Unfortunately, if you feel strongly about it there's a good chance that others also feel strongly in the opposite direction. The result is that you distract those people from the main reason you wrote the text.
Or in other words, you get on the front page of HN and the first 20 or 30 posts are talking about social justice warriors and not how to provide good exit experiences for users :-)
In a different, but similar way it's easy to miss your readers when talking about technical subjects. For example, if you have a very deep insight into a technical matter, it's often difficult to understand why your readers don't understand what you are talking about. The trick to good writing is to approach your reader on their terms and invite them in. If you can explain something in terms that they relate to, then suddenly they can understand it, whereas before they couldn't. It's easy to think that the reader is uneducated and that's why they didn't understand. However, it is the purpose of the writing to educate the reader.
In the same way, you might think that the reader should not get distracted by an offhand comment. It might be easy to fault the reader for not being able to see it in the context that you see it. However, just like the uneducated reader that can't understand a technical topic, you can't expect your reader to understand your context without a considerable amount of effort to set the stage. As it is not the main topic of your thesis, it becomes a bridge too far for the reader and they miss your point entirely.
I think GP's point was that "social justice warrior" is a loaded term with a political agenda behind it, and that using it detracts from your overall point (both in the article, and in your explanation for using it in the above comment)
If you want to break each word down individually then yeah, sure. But you can never divorce a phrase/words from their social meaning. What is implied between the lines carries just as much weight, if not more than the literal text.
You may feel that you are doing simply just that, without any political implications, but most people are not going to interpret it that way. The thought will not be successfully communicated, as the unnecessary politically charged language will overshadow your actual point. This can be easily fixed by removing that particular phrase.
they've got their right to do so and I understand there's a huge pain body associated with the SJW term.
However, it was a shame that we got into a bit of warfare around the semantics of a word when both I and these people who were analyzing my use of the word are most probably against people creating hate-blogs against someone's product :(
thx for taking time to write the comment, I appreciate it
The term “social justice warrior” is a wedge issue in internet politics. I would have been only slightly more distracted if you wrote that you weren’t an “abortionist”. It’s the only thing I’m going to remember about this article. Is that what you want?
It could possibly make sense if you were intentionally trying to target your service at conservative users, but why would you want to limit yourself like that?
my bad man, it's a humble wordpress theme, I coded my app once and it was the most painful thing for me — more of a designer. but hey, look, if you know how to fix that for me, send me a message and I'm happy to pay for an optimisation service!