What is a Customer Exit Survey and How Can it Help Your Business

What is a Customer Exit Survey and How Can it Help Your Business?

There is no better time to gather feedback than when customers are canceling their subscription. If you can convince these customers to share their thoughts, you’ll be empowered to make positive changes and proactively prevent future customer churn.

catherine heath

Last updated: November 21, 2022

7 mins read

When customers are canceling their subscription to your business, you have a valuable opportunity to acquire their honest feedback. While we all like compliments for the work we do, sometimes the negative responses can show us how to improve. If you let customers leave without conducting a customer exit survey, you’ve missed an important chance to find out exactly why they’re canceling. 

When you consider that only one in 26 customers tell a business about their negative experience, you have nothing to lose by asking customers for their feedback. Even though it might be painful to hear criticism of your product or services, it’s the only way you’ll be able to make measurable improvements to your business. 

81% of customers will give feedback when their experience didn’t go well with a company. 

That’s why you need a customer exit survey to find out exactly what is causing your customers to cancel, and potentially prevent more customers canceling in the future. 

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What is a customer exit survey?

A customer exit survey (also known as a customer cancellation survey) is a survey you send to customers when they are canceling their subscription to your business. The survey seeks to find out why a customer is leaving and to obtain actionable feedback about how you can improve your product or service. 

Read More: How to Respond to a Cancellation Email [with templates]

Your survey can be conducted online, through email, or over the telephone, as an alternative to a customer exit interview. Sending online surveys is a fruitful way of easily collecting feedback that doesn’t require too much effort from the customer. 

If you don’t ask your customer for their feedback when they leave, they may part ways with your business on a sour note. 

Sometimes companies provide incentives to complete their exit survey such as gift cards, but this is not recommended as it can skew the results. The best way to get customers to complete your survey is to keep it short, and send it as soon as your customer cancels. 

Read More: 10 Customer Service Incentive Ideas

6 customer exit survey questions to ask

1. Why are you canceling your subscription? 

The most important question you can ask a customer is to find out why they are canceling their subscription. You need to know this because it might help you prevent future customers from leaving. 

Knowing the reason for leaving might also enable you to prevent the customer from canceling, such as them not knowing about particular features that you offer. Sometimes the business may have genuinely made a mistake and you can take steps to rectify it. 

If you ask this question at the start of the survey the customer is more likely to complete all the questions. 

2. What were your favorite features about our product or service?

Reminding customers about what they were drawn to in your product or service in the first place is a great way to entice them to come back. By making them think about the good things, they might realize the value they get from your business. 

This is also important feedback for your company because you’ll get to know your customers’ preferences and be able to emphasize these in the future. Just because the customer is canceling doesn’t mean there is nothing they like about your service. 

3. What were your least favorite features about our product or service? 

Customers may have listed these things under “Why did you cancel?” but this question is a chance for them to go more in-depth with their answers. You need to know what customers disliked so you have a chance to improve. 

For example, customers may have had a bad service experience, in which case you know you need to up your customer support game. Your product may have had bugs which prevented customers from using it, which is a critical problem you need to fix. 

If customers who answered your survey had problems, you’ll know other customers will likely experience them too. It may be hard to hear, but it’s the only way your business can get better. 

4. How can we improve our product or service?

Now is your chance to gain valuable insights on what your customers think you can do to improve. There are always areas that can benefit from adjustments and if one customer provides a suggestion, you can bet other customers will be thinking it too. 

Customers may have new ideas that you can add to your product, or improvements you can make to the user onboarding process. Customers who are leaving are in the best position to tell you what they would like to see from your company, and it may be enough to attract them back in the future. 

Even small adjustments can make a big difference to how customers might perceive your brand. You could get feedback that your phone wait times are too long, so you could think about hiring more customer support agents. 

5. What would it take for you to reconsider our product or service in the future? 

Right now, your product or service might be a bad fit for your customer. It’s not quite what they need, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind at a later date. You need to know what it would take for customers to reconsider their decision. 

If you have the customer’s permission, you can retain their details and send them updates when you’ve made changes to the product. Just because a customer is canceling doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you. 

Many customers could be attracted back in this way if your business genuinely takes steps to improve. 

6. Would you recommend our product or service? 

Many customers might not leave because they are unhappy, but simply because they have outgrown your product or their needs have changed. They might be open to recommending your product or service because they have had a good experience overall. 

If customers are unhappy with the service they have received, this might lead them to write negative reviews about your business. You can prevent them venting their frustrations online by finding out what has happened, and offering an apology if necessary. 

If a customer has had a bad experience, they will appreciate your business trying to make it right. It might not make them stay, but at least they won’t be bad mouthing you to anyone else. 

Customer exit survey examples

Image source

Image source

Free customer exit survey template

1. Why are you canceling your subscription?
- It’s too expensive
- It doesn’t have the features I need
- It doesn’t work properly for me
- It’s too difficult to understand
- My circumstances have changed
- I don’t think it’s value for money
- Other
2. What were your favorite features about 
our product or service?
3. What were your least favorite features 
about our product or service?
4. How can we improve our product or service?
5. What would it take for you to 
reconsider our product or service in the future?
6. Would you recommend our product or 
service? [Yes / No / Maybe ]

Customer exit survey best practices

There are a few best practices you can follow when designing a customer exit survey process. 

1. Keep it short and simple

No one wants to spend half an hour completing a lengthy questionnaire. Customers who are leaving want to move on with their day and they’re much more likely to complete an exit survey if you tell them it will take five minutes. Don’t include all of the questions you would like answered – keep it to the bare minimum. A little feedback is better than no feedback at all. 

2. Send it at the time of cancelation

An exit survey needs to be sent exactly at the moment the customer cancels your product or service. If there is a delay, the customer’s attention will have moved on and they are unlikely to take the time to complete a survey. If you send it at once, the product will still be top of mind and customers will have valuable insights to share. 

3. Follow up with your respondents

When customers complete a survey they don’t want to think that their feedback has simply disappeared into the abyss. Take the time to follow up with customers who have completed the survey and let them know that someone will be taking action on their responses. Customers will appreciate knowing they have been heard. 

4. Thank your customers

Above all, make sure to thank customers for completing the exit survey. Their only motivation for doing so can be to help your business, so you should show appreciation for their time. Even though you won’t be doing business anymore, it’s still important to treat customers like human beings. 

How to use customer exit surveys to improve your business

Asking customers questions as they are canceling is a surefire way to find out improvements you can make for your business and prevent future cancellations. When you gather your feedback, don’t allow it to gather dust in a drawer but be sure to share it with everyone in your company. Every team member needs to know how they can better the customer experience. 

When you conduct a customer exit survey you get to find out exactly why a customer is leaving. This may be because they have found a better alternative to your product, or your product has become too expensive. Whatever the reason, sometimes a customer can be salvaged and convinced that your product is still right for them. 

Giving your customers an opportunity to share their thoughts leaves a better last impression of your brand. 

Customer exit surveys give you important feedback on the areas you need to improve. Gaining insight from your most unhappy customers is a great way to accelerate business growth, increase customer satisfaction, and develop your product or service in the right direction. 

Wrapping up

There is no better time to gather feedback than when customers are canceling their subscription. If you can convince these customers to share their thoughts, you’ll be empowered to make positive changes and proactively prevent future customer churn. The reason that one customer leaves may be common across the board, with many customers failing to complain. 

Whatever you do, don’t let your feedback stagnate without taking appropriate action. Customer exit surveys are there to show you what improvements you could make, which will also help you attract more customers in the long-term. 

Businesses that pay attention to their most dissatisfied customers are positioning themselves for customer success. Don’t let customers leave without taking this final opportunity to find out their opinion of your business. 

catherine heath

Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She often writes case studies, help documentation and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.

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