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Offboarding — The Way to Say Goodbye to Your Users

Bad offboarding is bad for business


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Vitaly Dulenko

3 years ago | 3 min read

I bet you’ve read a lot about onboarding process and its importance for a good user experience. There are numerous articles and best practices how to properly onboard users to convert them into loyal customers.

But finishing relations with your users is also as important as starting them. It’s hard to think about parting with your users as you’ve put so many efforts to attract them and they are so important for the business. And even this unpleasant situation is a good chance to provide an awesome user experience.

Bad offboarding is bad for business

Sometimes people stop using your product and it’s a natural process. They may have different reasons to do it — new competitive product, bad experience or lack of interest. It’s a hard situation for business but it happens regularly.

Good news — even after losing your users you can still have them as ambassadors who can share a positive experience about your service among their friends and colleagues.

Some companies still believe that keeping their users at any price is good for business. They use dark patterns, guilt-tripping to make it hard to stop membership or delete an account.

But there is one thing — if a user decided to stop using the service they’d always find the way to do it. A bad user offboarding experience can damage your business reputation and break user’s trust in your brand.

A pleasant offboarding experience leaves a positive impression on your users, they may come back later to resume using your product or recommend it to others.

Types of user offboarding

Pause or deactivate account

Pausing or deactivating an account means that the user can no longer use the service or can use a limited list of features, and doesn’t need to pay for a subscription. When you pause your account on MailChimp, the service ends the current billing cycle and suspends sending feature.

MailChimp offers you to pause or delete account
MailChimp offers you to pause or delete account

Cancel subscription

Most preferred type of business as you don’t lose the user permanently. They just stop using your service for a while. Make sure that the user can restart their membership anytime while saving their preferences as Netflix does it.

Membership cancellation on Netflix
Membership cancellation on Netflix

Delete account

Sometimes users might want to delete their account, as they won’t return in the future and they’d like to have all their data deleted.

Some companies combine two methods — deactivate the account and permanently delete it. When you want to delete your Twitter account, it deactivates for 30 days (you can restore your account during this period) and permanently deletes it after this period.

Best practices

Empathize

Empathy can help you to design a great offboarding process. User stories and journey mapping help you to improve this process and find best solutions for it.

Don’t hide the delete account option

It could be tempting to hide this link/button or make it barely visible to retain users. But remember the price for it — bad reputation, low loyalty and brand mistrust. Show the users that you respect them and their choice and give them the freedom to operate with their account.

Twitter shows the deactivate link right on the Settings page
Twitter shows the deactivate link right on the Settings page

Show benefits of membership

There are reasons customers close their accounts. Show them reasons to continue membership, show what they can loose after deleting the account. LinkedIn shows you that you’ll lose your connections, endorsements, and recommendations if you decide to close an account.

LinkedIn shows you what you’d lose if you delete your account
LinkedIn shows you what you’d lose if you delete your account

Prevent sudden account deletion

Clearly state that account deletion is an irreversible process. Use confirmation to prevent customers from sudden deletion of an account — enter password or confirmation word.

MailChimp uses confirmation before account deletion
MailChimp uses confirmation before account deletion

Ask for feedback

Offboarding is a good occasion to improve user experience. Use a short survey to ask your users why they decided to go and how to improve this situation. LinkedIn does it in a good way — they ask for reasons users are closing the account and provide solutions for them.

LinkedIn shows solutions in the survey
LinkedIn shows solutions in the survey

Offer pause and delete account options

Offer your users the option to pause the service alongside with deleting the account. In this situation, user’s data will remain saved and there is a better chance of them to come back in the future.

End it on positive note
End it on positive note

Be kind to your users. Wish them well, thanks to them for the membership and show them that you are always ready to continue the collaboration.

Conclusion

It’s both important how you meet new users and how you say goodbye to them. Offboarding is a good chance to improve users experience, empower your brand and reputation.

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Created by

Vitaly Dulenko

I’m a certified product designer with 9 years experience in delivering digital products from ideation to production (B2C and B2B). My expertise lays in the interaction design, behavioural psychology, research, business strategy, team management and art direction. I have a proven record of launching products from scratch, maintaining, redesigning and improving existing ones, team management, branding, working closely with C-level stakeholders to set up product vision and strategy.


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