Turning a Bye into a Goodbye

‍How streaming service Spotify have navigated the pain of subscription cancellations by offboarding customers with speed, ease and unexpected delight.

You learn a lot about a person by the way they handle rejection.

Naturally, loss is no easy thing to accept, but it can bring out the worst (or the best) in us all. Shaming, manipulative tactics, the stoking of confusion or highlighting of the dangers of leaving can all be experienced once you've expressed a desire to do so.

And this is no different for your relationship with a company than it is with another person.

During the Trainings we give at Coglode, a lot of time is spent exploring how companies misuse behavioural insights and make it very hard for you to leave their services. I've always felt that this negative, short-termist approach to customer experience is only one dark side of the coin. Trainees are aware of this too, asking for us to show us a better way to achieve the same outcome.

And now we can, courtesy of Spotify.

Cancelling your subscription with Spotify is a fast, easy process; no lengthy multi-step labyrinth of hidden buttons and loss-triggering.

And, like any good company seeking to improve, they then ask for a little feedback on why you decided to leave.

And then it's done...

...or is it??

What's this? Not only was the process of cancelling very easy and fast, but look! A surprise "Goodbye for now" playlist that I didn't expect after hitting cancel.

Far from being a painful, sludgy experience, this ending is fun, playful, and definitely something I want to tell my friends about...or, moreover, tell readers of applied behavioural science like you. You'll likely share it with others too, as a result.

How do you want to be remembered?

Accepting loss is just as important for a company as it is natural for a human being. And people will move on for all sorts of reasons. If we let them express their desires freely and thank them for sharing a journey with us, they'll be more likely to tell others of their good experience.

Companies like Amazon can only get away with their out-of-date use of behavioural insights with Prime because of its power and because this is what it's been doing for years. Why change what works? That this is valued and measured means it will be even less likely to change. However, most companies don't have a monopolistic hold on their market. So what might work for Amazon will be unlikely to work for you.

If you shame, manipulate or trick, you may well keep that customer for a short while longer. But the negative experience of how you made them feel in the process cuts deeper than is currently measured and will be talked about far more and for far longer into the future.

So, how do you want to be remembered when people naturally leave? Are you an Amazon, or a Spotify?

Make your own offboarding experience fast, with opportunity for feedback and perhaps even surprisingly good! If the Peak-End Rule suggests that we disproportionately recall the peaks and ends of experiences, you'd be best advised to turn your byes into goodbyes.

For more on how to do this, check out Ends by good friend Joe Macleod.

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