Did your customer really cancel their contract with you or did they simply miss your renewal notice?
The other day I was preparing my tax paperwork for an appointment with my accountant. As I searched for business receipts, I was unable to find one for MailerLite, the email marketing tool I use for sending out my email newsletter, new article alerts, and emails for my Big Yellow Sticky project.
In 2018 I upgraded from the free version of MailerLite in favor of the paid version which allowed unlimited emails and locked in a discounted subscription price. It was an annual payment and I figured it would work like any other subscription — it would auto-renew at the end of the subscription period.
As many of you may know, in 2020 I started writing daily blog posts. The new posts get emailed to my list members who requested alerts for new articles. As you can imagine, that will add up to a lot of individual emails if everyone gets an alert every single day. The problem was, at some point during 2020 those messages stopped being sent because I exceeded my email send limit.
But wait, you say… I thought you said you had unlimited emails?
Yeah. So did I.
As I searched for my 2019 MailerLite renewal, I logged into my email account to see if I could print a copy of the completed transaction and was surprised to find I was back on the free plan — with a limited (and by now woefully exceeded) email limit.
I reached out to MailerLite and was told that accounts did not automatically renew and I should have received a renewal noticed.
Not the thing you want to hear when you’ve been expecting your emails to have been delivered for the last 60+ days and they haven’t been going out.
I’ve since renewed my account and set-up my email automation once more. If you’re a subscriber to the article alerts or my Big Yellow Sticky list, your daily emails should start going out again on Monday morning.
I’m sticking with MailerLite for another year, because up until this surprise about my subscription not renewing they’d been easy to work with and completely reliable. I’m going to see if I can work with their customer service team to change the way they handle non-renewals and their customer follow-up process — because I never received an alert about my subscription lapsing, and that turned out to be bad for their business and my business.
What about the contracts your customers cancel?
- Do your contracts simply expire at the end of a contract period?
- Do you send out a notification when a contract is about to expire?
Given what happened to me and the misunderstanding I had with MailerLite, I would recommend reviewing your own process for handling accounts that are about to expire or have recently cancelled.
The only time an annual contract stays top of mind with a customer is when the company they’re working with is lousy and they are counting down the days to the contract expiration date. When things are going well, nobody thinks about the contract expiring or losing access.
You should be staying in touch with your customers all the time from a service standpoint, but at the very least reach out to customers 6-6 weeks prior to a contract expiring. This way you can update them and remind them of the end date, while still allowing them time to get budget permission to renew your contract (or give yourself time to sell them on the idea of renewing if they were considering canceling your contract).
If your system sends out automated messages about expiring subscriptions, make sure you are copied on messages going to your client accounts. This way you can make certain they’ve gone out and assign yourself the task of a personal follow-up call.
Consider requiring a confirming action to cancel the contract.
A simply one-button form that says “I understand my contract ends on January 1 and I do not want to renew” forces the customer to take an action to confirm their intent, rather then assuming they wanted to cancel simply because the clock ran out.
Stop losing business you didn’t have to lose!
Don’t be afraid to contact customers about their contract period. I think salespeople are afraid to contact a customer whose service is about to expire because they’re worried the customer will confirm they want to cancel and the salesperson figures no news is good news. And if the subscription does lapse, the salesperson tells themself there was nothing they could have done to save the account.
On the contrary — This is where your customer relationship comes into play!
Don’t be afraid of the truth. If something is going poorly, you get a chance to fix it.
And if something is going really well, you get a chance to renew it.