Sign me up, but don’t tie me down


AMAZON is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for purposely making unsubscribing from Prime as difficult as possible.

Matt Iliffe, CEO, Beyond
Matt Iliffe

It’s not an isolated incidence in a concerted effort by companies to retain customers — even against their will. Many online retailers and service providers intentionally add friction to the unsubscribing process.

This is frustrating for the customer — and bad for business. If a customer wants to leave, why punish them by making leaving hard — instead of improving the product? Unsubscribing is part of customer service — and a negative experience can be terminal for a relationship.

Improve the product

Use data and customer insights to understand why people unsubscribe. If they feel like they are not getting enough from their subscriptions, demonstrate how to make the most of them.

Provide more options

Explore alternatives to quitting. Allow customers to pause, or reduce their level of, their subscription. A loyalty offer may keep them subscribed.

A customer may sign up for a game, a series, or an event. After that, the customer may choose to unsubscribe. Address this reality up-front, and develop reasons to stay from the outset.

Be proactive

Leverage data to help predict which customers may feel they aren’t getting value from their subscriptions. Get to them before they reach the decision to unsubscribe.

Think ahead

Consider the image your brand wants, and provide customers with other ways to stay connected. Every lost customer is also a learning opportunity.

When it comes to customers’ rights, there should be no question marks. Unsubscribing is an integral part of the customer experience, just like signing up. And getting it right is something companies should be paying attention to.

Instead of adding unnecessary complexity or trying to manipulate people into staying, brands should see it as another touchpoint in the customer experience — and an opportunity to lay the foundation for reconnecting in the future.

A good unsubscribing experience is not a goodbye; it’s an auf Wiedersehen — until we meet again.

Matt Iliffe is CEO of Beyond