What to Do About Cancellations

Let's face it: Not everyone is going to be psyched about your product or service. You're going to see people return goods or cancel subscriptions. It's just a fact. But rather than writing that cohort off, those folks can be a big opportunity—and give you some helpful information about your product.

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Optimize Your Cancellation Flow

It may seem counterintuitive, but just like how it's important to let email subscribers go that don't want to be there, make it easy—within reason—for subscribers to cancel. That means optimizing your flow like any user experience.

They may be cancelling with the intention to come back at some point. When we asked some of our cancellations at Litmus why they cancelled, we found that a whole cohort of them were cancelling with their personal email to re-sign up with their company email or another piece of contact info. While this wasn't a huge percentage, it goes to show: You never know when potential customers may come back, so make sure you don't kick them on the way out.

A quick caveat: That doesn't mean you have to advertise how easy it is to cancel. So many companies advertise their services with "Cancel anytime!" There's no need to remind your customers that if they don't like you, they can go somewhere else. Hopefully, you'll have proven to them that you're the right solution—but no need to plant that seed of doubt yourself. 

If You Have Questions, Ask Them


Want to know why they're cancelling? Ask them. Include a mandatory exit survey as part of the cancellation flow—if you've followed the above advice and made the UX easy to use, then it shouldn't significantly slow them down, and you'll get some key insights about your product.

You have, essentially, two options here: Multiple choice or Write-in.

Based on user research, you may already have the main points about why people cancel (and hopefully you're on your way to addressing them). If you've got no idea, then start with a write-in.

Once you have a statistically significant sample (no major growth experiments + at least 30 responses), you can start to look at the qualitative data. Are people using the same or similar words to describe their frustrations? Why are they cancelling?

Once you know and you've done your due diligence, then you can include the top reasons as multiple choice answers, and include a write-in in case anyone has anything else to say. That way, you can see trends over time, but make sure that you're including an option for things you might not think about day-to-day.

Another caveat: Make sure this feedback doesn't go into the void. If it's product related, keep a pipeline open to the product team. Ideally, you'd find a way to set up this feedback into a dashboard so you could see which reasons were coming in over time. If no one uses this information you're spending time gathering, then you'll only see more cancellations, and still no idea why it's happening.

Follow Up

Once a user has cancelled, follow up. If you have it tied to multiple choice options, then trigger your cancellation email with a tailored message that addresses that concern.

If you're not entirely sure, then keep your message generic, but friendly. Again, make sure every touchpoint, even when it comes to a cancellation, is positive. You never know when that person may return, or may refer your company to friends. Especially in the B2B world, a lot of process and tool decisions are rarely made by the user—that person may have loved your service, but may have been told by the powers-that-be to make do without.

This is also the time to ask again for feedback, if you haven't included it in your exit flow. A simple email like this one can get a lot of engagement:


Losing a customer isn't an excuse for lousy user experience or customer service. Instead, think of a cancellation as a feedback mechanism and an opportunity, instead of a loss. Look for patterns in the reasons why they're cancelling and evaluate your next course of action. From there, you'll be able to take action that may just decrease the cancellations you're seeing.