Listen, I think your service is great and all, but I’m finished with it. I found a better alternative. I found some other phone company, some other bank, some other to-do list management service. They are cheaper and better, and their web site looks nice. So, I guess if I’m all done, I will just sign on to your web site and close my account.
Now, if I can just find the button that says “close my account.” Let see—“add a fax line” — “add calendaring” — “upgrade rate plan”— “open a brokerage account” — hmmmm. I know it’s here somewhere. Right? No?
Why not? I’ve never understood this frustrating barrier. It’s not just a cost for me, the customer. It’s a cost for the company, who is paying upwards of $3 to answer my call and demand that I explain in person why I’m leaving. Don’t you hate these calls? They hem and haw, they make you wait, they ask lots of questions. Suddenly all of our information age advances fade away. You could apply for a Turkmenistani passport in less time than it takes to quit some of these services. But as services inevitably become more “self-service”, this has to change. The quality of the service has to be the thing that keeps people around, not an exit barrier.
It’s funny though. Part of the logic for companies is, “Maybe they’ll stick around longer if they have to call.” Has anyone measured this? How many people actually stay with a service for a longer time just because they couldn’t find the “close my account” button?
And if they do, does it outweigh the cost of the phone call? There’s also the cost of the bad will. That is, by not providing a feature they should clearly have, the company is sending a message they might not even be aware they’re sending: “If the customer doesn’t value the relationship anymore, neither will we.” But the fact is, people quit services for a lot of reasons and often return later. Maybe they are moving away for a year. Maybe they’ll tell their friends about it. In other words, it ain’t over ‘till the customer is dead. And even then it might not be over.