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The Rules

Published: August 29, 2006. Filed under: Usability.

So today I got to wade through the joyful experience of cancelling my account with a business which shall remain nameless (unless, of course, they didn’t actually cancel the account — in which case they shall be named and shamed and several other things as well).

The experience was less then pleasant both for me and the poor customer-service rep who had to take my call, so I’d like to suggest some general guidelines on how this could have gone better. If you want me to be a happy customer, even when I’m ending my relationship with you, you’ll pay attention to these:

  1. If I can sign up for your service over the web, I should be able to cancel it over the web. Period. No gimmicks, no “please call between the hours of 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM Pacific Standard Time”. I should be able to close my account as easily as I opened it.
  2. If your phone tree says “To cancel your account, please press 1”, and I press 1, the CSR who picks up shouldn’t have to ask me why I’m calling.
  3. After I’ve said “no, I just want to cancel the account” in the same tone of voice for the fourth time, and it’s painfully obvious that I’m surfing the web and not paying any attention at all while you recite all the special offers you can give me if I just keep the account open, your common sense and your retention manual both should realize that I’m a lost cause.

These are just the obvious ones, but if you can just get them right you’ll make me a lot happier.