Customer retention

Reduce churn 10-30% with these 3 user offboarding tips

Updated October 12, 2020

Users that click “Cancel” are not a lost cause. A well-designed user offboarding flow can convince many of them to stick around.

Data from ProsperStack shows that 10-30% of users can be deflected from cancellation with an appropriate intervention.

How customers drop-off during a well-designed cancellation flow

In this post we’ll cover how to keep more customers by:

  • Reinforcing value — When you remind users of the value of your product, some may reconsider cancellation.

  • Providing alternatives — This may be your last chance to provide a solution to a customer’s problem.

  • Presenting special offers — Many customers can be persuaded to stay with a discount, plan upgrade or other incentives.

Note: These suggestions assume you’re allowing customers to cancel directly from your app or service.

6 reasons why you should allow self-service cancellation
Word of caution

Don't make your cancellation experience a gauntlet that will frustrate customers. A bad final experience can solidify the negative in a customer's mind and lead to bad word of mouth.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, the average unhappy customer will tell 9-15 people about their experience; 13% tell more than 20 people. So keep it positive!

Reinforce value

Reminding customers of your product’s value is an effective way to prompt some customers to reconsider cancellation. You can accomplish this with an account summary or acknowledgements.

Account summary

An account summary is a personalized reminder of the value a customer is getting out of a product.

It should consist primarily of specific, quantifiable, personal usage metrics such as:

  • Number of contacts in a CRM

  • Features the customer uses regularly

  • Titles of drafts/in-progress items

  • Number of active users

  • Metrics or titles of reports actively gathering data

  • Details about data that will be deleted on cancellation

Example of value reinforcement in a cancellation flow

It may also include more generic value statements such as “99.999% uptime” or “top-notch customer service.”

The goal is to bring to consciousness the real value your product has delivered to your customer.


Acknowledgements are statements the customer must accept before completing cancellation.

Like an account summary, these statements should highlight what will be lost if the customer cancels, for example:

  • Data that will be lost

  • Access to a “grandfathered” plan that will no longer be available

  • Days of the subscription that will be surrendered (if cancellation is effective immediately)

Provide alternatives

Consider whether there are ways you can hold onto your customer.

Pointing customers to support options can be effective. Pausing an account or downgrading to a free plan will maintain the relationship.

YNAB's offboarding page links to educational alternatives

Support materials

How many customers cancel because they couldn’t figure out how to accomplish their objectives with your service?

Make sure you’re putting support options front and center. Provide links to your knowledge base and make it easy to connect with support/success representatives via phone or chat.

Pause the account

Some customers come and go. Consider offering to pause the account for free instead of canceling altogether, or offer an “on hold” option at a nominal cost to maintain their data.

A customer exit survey can help identify which customers will be most likely to accept a pause.

Tip: Don't pause indefinitely

Make sure your pause option is for a fixed time, usually 3-6 months, otherwise you may never see those customers again. The goal is to keep customers engaged, not invent a new euphemism for cancellation!

Transition to free

Consider offering a basic free plan that can keep the customer connection alive.

Present offers

Offers, such as a discount or plan upgrade, can entice customers to stick around, especially those that are price sensitive or didn’t think they were getting enough value from the product or service.

To increase effectiveness, you can segment offers based on answers from your customer exit survey.

2 Questions to Ask in Every Customer Exit Survey

For example, you may want to offer a discount to customers who say the product was “too expensive” and a free support upgrade to those that had difficulty using the product.


Who doesn’t like saving money? Even customers who intend to cancel can often be persuaded to stay at the right price.

These kinds of coupons typically need to offer savings of 25-50% for 3-6 months.

A sweet deal on an annual play might be effective in some cases, but often customers that were considering canceling won’t want to lock in for that long.

Plan change

A plan change can provide the customer with extra value, whether that be more features, storage or support. Consider upgrading the customer to a higher offering at no extra charge.

Or offer access to a “secret” plan only available for a limited time to customers that go to cancel.

Extend trial

For customers that are in a free trial, you can offer an extension of the trial period so they have more time to explore the product and find the value.

Tip: Saved customers may still be at-risk

Saving a customer is great, but your job isn't done when they accept the offer. You kept them around, but you probably haven't solved the core issue that caused them to consider cancellation in the first place. Categorize these customers as "at risk" and reach out to them.


Just because a customer goes to cancel doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to keep them.

Taking the time to design a user offboarding experience that reinforces value, provides alternatives and entices customers to stay with special offers is well worth the effort.

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