Exit surveys — surveys you send to customers when they cancel their subscription or abstain from upgrade after a free trial, ceasing to use your service — have grown massively in popularity over the last few years, as an increasing number of businesses realize the tremendous value of feedback from departing customers.
Done right, they can provide valuable insights into why customers quit using your product giving you a grasp of the customer experience and the issues they dealt with along the way. Used properly, Net Promoter Score surveys can serve as highly effective tools for learning more about the perception of your product, service or business as a whole, letting you use the unlocked data to drive improvements.
While it might seem pointless to survey departing customers on their likelihood of talking about your product to their friends, doing so can yield some fascinating insights, as well as a surprising amount of actionable data to help your business grow. For example, the helpdesk software company Groove experimented successfully with exit surveys, generating insightful responses from around 19% of their canceling customers.
Below, we’ll explain why you should consider using NPS® as your exit survey, from the unique benefits a short and simple survey provides to the discoveries you can make about improving retention using the collected data.
NPS Surveys Are Short and Perfect for Departing Customers
Response rates for exit surveys tend to be on the low side — actually very much on the low side. In the Groove’s example linked above, the company’s exit survey achieved a 1.3% completion rate, meaning just over one out of every 100 canceling customers bothered to provide feedback.
Even by the already low standards of conventional email surveys, a 1.3% completion rate isn’t good. It’s particularly worrying for small businesses, which may not have enough customers to ever extract meaningful insights from such an insignificant amount of survey data.
For example, if your SaaS business has 1,000 paying clients and loses 10-20 every month, it could take years to generate enough data from your exit surveys to make considerable changes to your product and improve customer retention.
In short, conventional exit surveys aren’t very effective. However, for businesses with tens of thousands of paying customers, they’re acceptable. For smaller SaaS businesses, the low response rate makes them an ineffective source of information.
One of the reasons is the complexity of many online surveys. Customers that are leaving your business don’t want to spend more time on you, making it highly unlikely they’ll fill in one page after another of text fields, checkboxes and radio buttons.
NPS surveys, on the other hand, are short and simple. They only ask a single question — one that customers can answer in just a few seconds. And the feedback aspect of the survey is an optional extra, reducing the friction involved in completing the survey as a departing customer.
Instead of wasting 10-15 minutes on filling in a conventional survey, an NPS survey allows your departing customers to speak their minds without a significant time commitment.
NPS Surveys Allow for Direct, Honest Feedback
Have you ever found yourself filling in a survey and constantly choosing “none of the above” from the list of available options?
Many customer satisfaction surveys, including exit surveys, are built around multiple choice questions. As a departing customer, there’s little room for you to deviate from the path the survey has chosen — a path that might not include the information you’d like to share.
Net Promoter Score is different. Instead of bombarding departing customers with one multiple choice question after another — each with a drop-down field or series of radio buttons — it gives them a chance to say exactly what they’re thinking.
This means that instead of being limited in their ability to provide feedback by the predefined options, departing customers can explain exactly why they left.
They might have thought a specific aspect of your product was poorly designed, making it a pain to use on a regular basis. Or, they might have found a better deal elsewhere (if you’re lucky, there’s a chance they might even tell you which competitor they switched to).
Perhaps they have experienced recurring software glitches or issues integrating your product with, something they depend on to run their business. Or, maybe they don’t need your product anymore and canceled just because it was a sensible financial decision.
All of these examples of specific feedback create opportunities for you to improve your product and reduce the risk of losing customers for similar reasons in the future. They also give you a chance to reach out to lost customers and win them back.
Any survey that allows direct, honest and comprehensive feedback beats a series of radio buttons and drop-down menus. Since NPS surveys are so simple and open, they allow departing customers to provide a level of detail and insight that traditional exit surveys can’t match.
NPS Surveys Help You Identify New Weaknesses
Your product has weaknesses, you probably just don’t know about. This is true no matter how successful your marketing is, how strong your monthly recurring revenue might be, or how little churn you have.
While products tend to attract customers with similar needs, each of them has certain unique requirements that can make one solution better than a similar one. Often, the small differences between Product A and Product B are enough to make a customer leave one for the other.
We’ve covered the importance of using an NPS survey to quantify and prioritize known causes of customer churn above. But NPS exit surveys can also be useful in helping you identify new, previously unknown reasons for losing customers.
There’s a common belief in technology that people within a company — employees, founders, and others that work on a product or service every day — are within a “bubble.” They live and breathe the product, giving them a viewpoint that doesn’t always match the customers’.
This means that consumers are often more aware of your product’s weaknesses than you are, including drawbacks you might not ever have thought about.
Provide a conventional, restrictive dropdown survey with the typical cancellation reasons and you’ll understand why you’re losing some customers. Deliver an open-ended NPS survey and there’s a chance departing customers will teach you new things about your own business.
NPS Surveys Can Help You Anticipate and Avoid Bad Reviews
Beyond helping you improve your product and increase retention, an NPS exit survey can also help your business identify departing customers that are most likely to spread negative reviews about your business.
Since NPS surveys are open-ended, they make it easy for highly frustrated customers to vent their feelings. Often, a long, detailed and overly negative response to an NPS survey can be a precursor to a string of bad tweets, reviews or social media coverage of your business.
Data shows that bad customer service experiences are more likely to be shared than good ones, making it important that you have a warning system in place if a departing customer leaves on bad terms.
This creates several opportunities for your business. First, if a customer cancels and leaves a detailed, highly negative response to your NPS survey, you have the chance to prepare for a negative backlash before it happens (if the customer decides to post to social media).
You also have the perfect occasion to reach out and attempt to resolve the situation, giving the customer a chance to part on friendly, rather than hostile, terms.
This approach also keeps the door open to a frustrated or disappointed departing customer returning to your business in the future. As we outlined in our guide on converting Detractors into Promoters, it can be surprisingly easy to win back an unhappy customer.
Start Sending NPS Surveys With Retently
The benefits of Net Promoter Score extend far beyond surveying departing customers as they leave your business. From quantifying demand for new features to discovering how likely your paying customers are to recommend your business, NPS has a variety of advantages.
Ready to get started? Create your Retently account and start surveying your customers right away to learn more about how you can improve retention and fuel growth. Check our seven-day free trial, no credit card or long-term contract obligation required.