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7 Tips for Effective Cancel Surveys and Flows

One of Stay Ai’s most valuable benefits is the way it enables brands to proactively enhance their subscriber experience with things like discounts, gifts with purchase, exclusive offers, etc. But the fact is, you’re always going to have customers who hit the cancel button. 

That’s why your cancellation survey and subsequent flow are two of your most important retention tools. You don’t have to just sit back and watch them go. 

That said, we see a lot of brands still making this mistake: creating their cancel flow and then forgetting about it for the next year. 

Our rule of thumb is that, with the right flow, you should save at least 20% of the people who go through it. If you’re not, you probably need to optimize — or you’ll be leaving money on the table. 

Let’s dig into seven helpful tips for optimizing your cancellation surveys and flows.

Cancel Surveys

To clean up the holes in your subscription program, you have to know why your customers are canceling, and how those reasons are trending over time. That’s where the cancellation survey comes in.

1. Optimize Cancellation Reasons Over Time

Begin with a core set of reasons for cancellation then, based on the data, break them down further — only if necessary. 

For example, let’s say one of your cancellation reasons is “Price.” That could be an issue on the customer side (“I can’t afford this right now.”) or it could be a brand/value issue (“I don’t believe this is worth the price.”) 

If the number of people selecting this as a cancel reason is relatively low, you might not need to break it down further. But if it’s a large proportion of your answers, it could be valuable to find out if it’s their budget or their perception of value that’s causing the real pain.

2. Address the “Other” Category

You’ll probably always need “other” as a category, but if it’s being selected more than 5% of the time, that signals a bigger problem. It means you have customers leaving and you don’t know why. 

If you encounter this, don’t worry — there are practical steps you can take to address it. 

First, gather input from the “Other” comment field and examine responses for recurring patterns or themes. This will provide valuable insights into the areas where customers’ needs might not align with the available response options. After that, temporarily disable the “Other” option, pushing customers to select the next most relevant response from the provided choices.

3. Avoid Recency and Primacy Bias

To ensure unbiased data collection, you need to randomize the order of reasons presented in your cancelation surveys. Why? Recency and primacy bias.

Primacy bias refers to the likelihood that you’ll remember the first items in a list better than the ones in the middle.

Recency bias refers to a greater ability to remember more recent information better than older information.

These biases are why, if you leave all your cancel reasons in the same order, you’ll likely see inflated numbers on the top and bottom reasons. Randomizing the order removes that bias so you get more accurate data.

Cancel Flows

The two biggest things that make a cancel flow effective are: personalization and personality. Customers respond to feeling as if something is just for them, coming directly from a real human.

1. Acknowledge the Customer’s Patronage

Expressing gratitude for a customer’s loyalty and acknowledging their specific purchase history helps create a personalized connection. The keyword here is “personalized”: customers want to feel like the brand knows and values them.


For example, offering a discount while highlighting their length of subscription can make the customer feel valued. Or if you’re responding to a product issue, you can acknowledge the product they currently subscribe to and offer them an alternative product they might like more.

2. Use Video Treatments

The save rate on video messages is 40%+, making it one of the most effective save tactics. Why? It’s personalization, again.

Incorporating video content into cancellation flows can greatly enhance the personalization aspect. By featuring a real person instead of a faceless brand, businesses can establish a human connection and address customer concerns directly.

3. Offer Irregular-Number Discounts

This one frequently surprises people, but we’ve seen it work time and time again. Irregular discounts (e.g., 19% or 22% off) can grab customers’ attention and create a sense of personalization. These offers appear less automated and more tailored to the customer’s unique situation.

4. Incorporate Product Education

If a cancellation reason pertains to product dissatisfaction, you can provide additional information to educate them. 

For example, let’s say you have a supplement brand and a customer cancels after 60 days because they don’t think it’s working. You could counter by educating them that subscribers typically start seeing results after 90 days. 

Or, if you’re selling a beverage or food item and a customer cancels because they don’t like the flavor, make sure they know how easy it is to try a different one — or even a whole new product.

Leverage Cancel Surveys and Flows to Keep More Customers, Longer

Don’t fall into the trap of creating your cancel flows only to neglect them for extended periods of time. That approach only undermines your potential to save customers from churning, and misses out on opportunities to improve the overall user experience. Effective cancel flows and follow-ups should be dynamic and continuously evolving to meet customer needs.

Stay Ai’s RetentionEngine makes this process near-effortless, eliminating the need for additional work from IT or developers. Find out how Stay Ai can enable your brand to take charge of its cancellation flow and make sure it remains an effective retention strategy for your brand.

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