Over the weekend, I called my mobile phone service provider to remove two unused lines from my account. The process took over an hour, which is ridiculous.

As a customer, I should be able to “manage my account” with very few roadblocks. In other words, make it easy for customers to get what they want — even if that means breaking up with your business.

Companies focused on the customer experience should constantly ask themselves, “How can we make people happier?” One easy way to make your customers happier is to make it really, really easy to cancel. It sounds silly to make it easy for customers to essentially stop paying you, but let’s explore the idea of making it easy to cancel service.

Cancelling service should be easy. Here’s why…

If you lose 1 customer (due to a cancellation) and it’s easy to cancel service, what happens?

  1. You just lost a customer.

If you lose 1 customer (due to a cancellation) and it’s difficult to cancel service, what happens?

  1. You just lost a customer.
  2. Your ex-customer is also unhappy.
  3. Your ex-customer will likely never return. (this happened to my ex-cable company)
  4. Your ex-customer now has motivation to tell up to 16 people about their bad customer experience. (source)

Most companies make it difficult to cancel service, because they are essentially making it easier for you (the customer) to pay them less. You cancelling service impacts the company’s bottom line (revenue) which is why many companies employ a separate “account recovery” (aka, sales) team to thwart your cancellation efforts.

Don’t do that, and here’s why…

I’ve been with the same cellphone provider since my first mobile phone — over 14 years. This company (unnamed out of respect) made it extremely painful and difficult to remove two unused lines from my account. So, in 60 days, when my contract is no longer part of the equation, I will be cancelling my other three lines of service.

My former cable company made the same mistake. Rather than having good customer service and making my experience as a customer pleasant, they relied on their monopolization of our market to keep me as a customer.

We came into some “tough times” when I started COMNIO and we called to cancel our service in order to save money. My former cable company not only made it difficult to cancel, but they also continued sending us bills for three months after we cancelled our service.

We finally got the situation resolved, but it took 90 days and over three hours of phone conversations to resolve the issue (this is one of the reasons our consumer-facing app exists). Now, each time they send me marketing materials, they go straight into my recycle bin.

“Fool me once…” but never again.

The level of customer service you provide and the quality of the customer experience should be independent of whether or not the person is actually a customer.

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In other words, your courtesy, kindness, and “customer service” should extend to everyone with whom your company interacts (current customers, future customers, and past customers).

Moral of the story: make cancelling service easy — as easy as it is to sign up and start service. Your customers will thank you and may eventually return when they have the money, resources, or need for your services.