Independent Thinking Blog

The Value of a Great Breakup

I have a problem with long-term contracts. If you have to lure customers into sticking around, what does that say about your confidence in your product, service, and/or value?

Okay, I get it. You spent a lot of effort bringing people in. And you want to incentivize people to stay. But if they’re unhappy and they’re stuck with you, they’re going to shout that from the mountaintop. If it’s one disgruntled customer you can’t make happy, why not let him go?

Because I don’t want to be locked into long-term contracts, I tend to select service providers who offer month-to-month options. Case in point: Clear. I had a Clear mobile hotspot for several years, and it served me well. But recently I added a tethering option to my mobile phone service, so my hotspot became unnecessary.

Break up well, and you could have a competitive advantage.

AOL a few years ago infamously made it virtually impossible to let anyone cancel their service. They just took you around in circles until you got so fed up that you hung up. A good friend of mine can vouch for this; it took her over an hour to get her dad’s account cancelled after he gave up in frustration after several tries of his own.

Clear made it easy. As in 2-tweets easy:

Me: How do I cancel my service? It’s been very good to me, but I’m tethering my phone these days.


Clear: I can take care of that for you. We’re sorry to see you go. Please [Direct Message] me the phone number associated with your account.


Me: Thank you. Just DM’ed phone number.

A couple DM’s later, I was out.

Break up well, and you could have a fan for life.

You can probably guess that I think Clear rocks. The company earned a customer evangelist just by letting me go the right way.

How does your business let go of customers, clients, and employees? Do you know how to break up well?

Photo by cogdogblog (Flickr).

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