When It’s Time To Take Your Business Elsewhere, Here’s The Right Way To Exit

Can we talk about the end? It’s that moment when you say, “That’s it. I’m taking my business elsewhere.” And you mean it.

It’s the moment when you conclude your interests and a company’s interests are no longer aligned, to put it delicately. It’s time to go.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to leave. I know because I watch people do it all the time, every day. Heck, I’ve had it done to me both on a professional and, sadly, personal level. I have a lot of experience with this.

A recent American Express survey suggests consumers are trigger-happy. After only a single instance of poor customer service, 37 percent of respondents bail out on a company. Another 58 percent say they’d be willing to endure “two to three” instances of bad service. In other words, for 95 percent of American consumers, businesses get three chances at most to get customer service right.

Here’s what you need to know: There’s a right way and a wrong way to split. Almost no one ever hears about the right way, but the wrong way sometimes goes viral.

“You’re already familiar with this story?” asks Andrew Pollis, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. “It’s about a guy who tried to cancel his account with Comcast and was met with a super-aggressive customer service representative who wasn’t really offering any inducements but also wouldn’t let the customer go.”

That’s not how to go your separate ways.

Pollis says it’s common with companies in certain industries, like cable TV.

“That interaction provides an opportunity to rescue business from an impending cancellation,” he explains. “So they have developed interceptive measures. In some instances, a telephone representative is armed with the tools to offer an inducement, like a discounted rate, to entice the consumer not to leave.”

So how do you say “good-bye”?

Know why you’re leaving. When David Waring, the co-founder of FitSmallBusiness.com, decided to cancel his email marketing software, he knew exactly why. “We found it more complicated to use than originally advertised, and more expensive than another less complicated but just as powerful option,” he says. “So we decided to cancel.” Some customers don’t know why they’re leaving. Maybe they’re just mad at the company, or at themselves, for something over which the business doesn’t even have any control. When a retention specialist phoned Waring, he was ready with an explanation ― and a step-by-step process for winning back his business. (It didn’t work, and he left.)

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