Churn Zero reached out to me and asked me if I can answer some more of your questions. We had some great questions asked during the exit interview webinar a little while ago. I wasn’t able to get to all of them. And there’s some really great ones that I would like to address. So, Churn Zero asked me if I would answer them. Here are some of the questions that I wasn’t able to get to.

Question 1: Even if you sense that it might be possible to win the customer back, during the exit interview process, do you still not attempt to get them back on board during the exit interview?

Anita’s answer: After all, you’ve got the customer, you’re speaking with them, you know they’re leaving.  Why not? Why not attempt to ask them if they would come back, put some offers in front of them? And the reason is something called bait and switch. Now, I want you to put yourself back in the customer’s shoes. When you’ve been a customer, or even if you’ve been surfing the internet and you see something, it looks good. You click on it. Let’s say whatever it might be. And it takes you to a landing page that has nothing to do with what you clicked on and what you thought it would be. The bait was what you clicked on, the switch is like, “Whoa, this isn’t even close to what I thought it was going to be.” Usually doesn’t leave you with very good feelings.

Well, it’s the same here in this situation with exit interviews, the expectation has been said that you’re just going to ask some questions around why they chose to leave.  That’s the expectation. That’s the bait, that’s okay. We’re just simply going to have this discussion. Then suddenly somewhere in the conversation, it becomes a sales conversation. You’re trying to win them back and that’s the switch. So, think back even as small as clicking on something on the internet and being taken to something that wasn’t at all related to what you clicked on or in situations, because we’ve all had it. “Oh, I’m just going to ask you some questions”. And the next thing you know, you’re in a sales conversation. If you think back to how that felt, it doesn’t feel good. You walk away angry, upset, sometimes confused, maybe a little hurt.

That’s the reason why you want to keep exit interviews purely informational. You are just there to get a better understanding. If you want to run a win back campaign and possibly win back that customer, do that separately from the exit interview. Again, if it ever pops up in a in a discussion with your team, “why not combine the two?”, you can give them that answer, that, “Hey, have you ever had it to where you’ve had been the victim of a bait and switch situation? And if you have, how did you feel once that switch happened? And I bet you it didn’t feel very good”. So that’s why you want to keep them totally separate.

Question 2: We are high touch with low churn, so we’ve really only had three clients churn. The question is at what point does it even make sense to start with only 10% even agreeing to an interview?

Anita’s Answer: So high touch, low churn, should we start with 10%? So the 10% that I mentioned in the webinar is really for a tech touch or digital touch environments where there’s no relationship, with the client or the customer. So you’re not speaking with them directly. It’s mostly self-serve, you’re going to get a smaller percentage of people agreeing to an exit interview there. But if you’re a high touch environment, you have a relationship. My suggestion is ask every single one of them that is deciding to leave if you can have an exit interview with them. More than likely, they will agree because there’s already a relationship in place.

You can also put the expectation of an exit interview in the contract as well, and that will help with ensuring that a greater number of your exiting customers will actually take that interview. So, very different between high touch and low touch environments.

Question 3: My organization isn’t currently conducting exit interviews, though we think we should, for the sake of data. What’s a good way to decide upon a purpose of the interviews when we don’t know what we don’t know?

Anita’s Answer: So, I had mentioned in the webinar that you want one purpose for the interviews. It doesn’t mean that you can’t change it over time, but you really want to understand one particular thing, and then from there, you can get your themes. The best way to do this is to start having a discussion with your team. And I do this with my clients. When we first get together, I ask them, “what is it that you don’t already know that you would like to know?” It can relate to onboarding. It can relate to milestones, how the customer feels it can relate to the product. It can relate to communications. It can relate to different parts of the customer journey. It can relate to almost anything, but to get the discussion going so that you can figure out what that one purpose is ask, “what is it that we would like to know that we don’t currently know now?” And what will happen is one particular big thing will bubble up to the surface. And there you go, you have your one purpose for your exit interviews. 

Question 4: I’m interested in understanding when my customers have gone to a competitor, but also what plans, features or special offer, enticed them to leave. I often find customers aren’t always comfortable with providing this information. Is there a way this line of questioning can be framed up to keep the customer from putting their guard up?

Anita’s Answer: There is a fair bit to unpack here. This person wants to understand when the customers have gone to a competitor. So again, that exit interview, just as we talked about in the webinar, but also what plans features or special offers, enticed them to leave. They find that the customers aren’t always comfortable providing this information. And the reason is the customers aren’t necessarily open to providing this information is because we’ve all been the victim of those bait and switch conversations where, you know, “oh, I’m just going to gather some information from you”.  And then next thing you know, things have pivoted and suddenly it becomes a sales conversation.

If you are asking questions around plans, features, or special offers that may have enticed them to leave. If I was being asked these questions right away in my mind, I’d be thinking like, “oh, they’re going to try to do one better”. And to win me back, that would be the first thing that would be going in my mind. As soon as that pops up, that guard comes up and no way am I going to tell you, because I want to leave. I’ve already made my decision.

The way around this is to really set the expectation strongly at the beginning of the conversation. In the introduction you want to establish trust. How you establish trust is by saying “I am only going to ask you questions, sheerly for information. This is not going to be a sales call. I’m not going to try to win you back. I’m not going to put offers in front of you”. And then you stay with that, you stay true to that.

Again, if you want to do a win back campaign, you do that separately from the exit interview. All right, keep those separate, establish that trust and stay true to it. Then your customers that are exiting or exited will be more likely to be open and honest, because they’re going to take the chance and trust you that what you’re saying is accurate and that you’re not going to try the bait and switch with them. And there was one last part of this; is there a way this line of questioning can be framed up to keep the customers from putting up their guard. Yes. Like I mentioned, build that trust by setting those expectations and then stick with that.

Question 5: Would a non-SaaS business have a different approach for exit interviews?

Anita’s Answer: The short answer is no.  They wouldn’t, it’s the exact same process, whether you are a SaaS company or a non-SaaS company, you are simply looking for more information from your customers or clients that are leaving so that you can put in different processes or fix gaps that you have to keep other customers like them from leaving. So, it’s the exact same process.

Question 6: In terms of setting up a cancellation survey as an end product app, where we primarily deal with the SMB space, how many questions are too many questions?

Anita’s Answer: There’s so much debate, long survey, short surveys. I’m going to give you an answer that is actually about the types of questions you’re asking. There are two types that are typically used in surveys.

Those are closed questions. So yes, no, here’s a list. Then you have open questions, which is essentially just a comment box or a text box where people can either type in their message or they can, if it’s a voice recording, leave a voice recording. What you want to do is actually set up a certain number of closed questions. And then the open question. So generally you want about 70% closed questions because they’re very fast to go through. Yes, no, here’s my list. Yes, this is the reason why I’m canceling, and ask most of those upfront. And then at the end, maybe two or three questions or 30% could be the reasons why. The reason why you want to structure it this way is that you want to get momentum going very quickly in the beginning. And you can put some of the open-ended questions and intersperse them too.

You don’t have to just leave them all for the end, but you want to really get responses from them. If there’s too many open questions, what ends up happening is people feel like, “I’ve just been telling them over and over again why I’m leaving. What I wasn’t happy with. When is this survey going to end?” And then what ends up happening is people just end up abandoning it. So for a cancellation survey, 70% closed, 30% open.

Generally I wouldn’t ask more than 10 to 15 questions. My recommendation, of course, as with anything – test it. Test and see is 10 questions too short, is 15 questions too many? Where are you getting your highest rate of abandons or completed responses. And just test, test and see, and then play with that ratio as well. Like maybe 70/30 is good just in the beginning, but you find 60/40 is a better split. Test, test, test, and find out.

Question 7: If we already have an exit survey, how can we mix the interview and the survey without overwhelming the customer?  Also, shouldn’t we be asking pretty much almost the same questions in the exit survey and in an additional exit interview?

Anita’s answer: Let’s do this first part. How can we mix them? So, what you want to do of course, with your cancellation or your exit survey, yes, you want to go through, you want to ask those questions, not too many, because you want to keep it on the brief side. Again, we talked about that sort of 10 to 15, test and see which is best. And then just ask them, would they be interested in jumping on a quick call so that you could understand their responses better. Know that there’s going to be only a small proportion of people who are going to agree to speak to you further about why they’re exiting.

So again, you want to play around, you want to test and see if you can get more people to speak with you, but, whether it’s the same questions or not that you’re going to be asking in the exit interview versus the survey, not everybody who takes the survey is going to also agree to the interview. It’s perfectly fine to ask the exact same questions. The other reason why you’re asking the exact same questions is they probably taken the survey maybe a day or two earlier, or several hours earlier, may not remember that they’ve been asked all those same questions. And what it allows you to do is probe deeper.

Now with some companies, what they do is they have the person’s response and they just ask them, “Hey, could you explain a little further about this? Tell me more”.  I just want to get a better understanding. This was your response. So, you can do it that way, or you can keep them totally separate where you just ask the questions again and just ask them to go through and give you some deeper responses.

The benefit of the exit interview coupled with the survey is that with the survey, you get some data. And again, it’s going to be a smaller proportion of people who choose to do the interview, but now for that smaller subset, you get really deep understanding because you’re able to probe and ask, like I said, “tell me a little bit more about this, or you responded in this way. Can you share with me a little bit about why this was your answer?” So the two together are actually really beautiful because that way you’re collecting some data either way, whether they take the interview or not.

Conclusion

I love to answer questions. If you haven’t connected with me on LinkedIn, please reach out to me there. If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions in a public forum, reach out to me, connect with me. You might have to hit the ‘more’ button and then you’ll see one of the options is connect with me. Say you attended the webinar or you watch this video and you still have some questions ask, and then just ask them of me over there because I’m always happy to answer questions – I really like it, it’s actually something I really enjoy doing. Thank you very much for listening and please connect with me on LinkedIn. Take care and bye for now.