Endings: Part of the customer lifecycle

Do you have an end-of-life plan? Not for your healthcare (although that’s a very good idea). Not even for your product – for your customer relationships?

As we focus on lead nurturing, like parents we have to remember the other end of the cycle—the point at which a customer is no longer a customer. As the Software-as-a-Service delivery model grows, this is something that SaaS providers need to consider.

I’ve been through this process a few times as a consumer recently – cancelling a voice line from a telco provider, canceling cable service from a major cable provider, or an insurance policy I no longer need. And on the other end, I’ve been helping a client figure out their automated cancelation process for customers ending a free trial (and choosing not to continue). Some businesses handle it well, while others leave you feeling disgruntled or annoyed.

Not every ending is negative –in the B2B environment, businesses may be merging, people changing jobs or budgets temporarily cut back. Former customers still make recommendations (negative or positive) to their friends and colleagues. So it’s important to handle this stage of the relationship with care.

Whether you’re creating online forms, automatically generated emails or phone scripts, you should observe a few general guidelines.

• Treat departing customers like they’re still valued customers – even if they’re no longer customers.

• Offer them a chance to give you feedback, but don’t pester them for it.

• Don’t throw roadblocks in their way of canceling. If you make the process difficult and painful, that will be their last impression of you, and might undo overall positive experiences with your service.

• Invite them to stay connected (in a long-term lead nurturing campaign, for example, or on a Facebook page.

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