093: Creating positive outcomes from member cancellations – with Jeremy Redleaf

Jeremy Redleaf is the Co-founder at Caveday, a global community of makers that come together to do focused work built with MemberSpace. In this episode, he joins Ward to discuss how to turn cancelations into a proactive opportunity to spotlight and support your members.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Welcome, everyone. Today, I’ll be talking to Jeremy Redleaf, the co-founder at Caveday, a global community of makers that come together to do deep-focused work built with MemberSpace. Jeremy, welcome to the Membership Maker podcast. We’re excited to have you here!

Jeremy Redleaf: Thanks for having me. I’m team MemberSpace; I’m here!

Ward Sandler: Awesome. If you’re running a membership business, you’re likely to have some cancellations and you’re going to have to deal with it on a financial level, but also on an emotional level. And that sometimes can be even more challenging in your experience. What is the best way to approach this?

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah. So, you know, on our old platform, we had to do cancellations manually. So everyone that needed to cancel how to email us. So our inbox was full, you know, not full, but you know, had a constant stream of cancellations in it. And even though our membership was growing, you know, month after month, it felt very demoralizing to, to see all the, see the subject line canceled over and over and over again. So what we did was we, we moved to a customer support ticket program, HelpScout. I think you guys use the same one and that just took it out of our inbox. And we were able to send an automated note when the word cancel, appeared to just sort of let people know that it was coming, and it took the pressure off of us to respond, you know, right away or fear, like people thinking we’re taking their money. So that was a first move we said was like, this is actually affecting us as, as founders to see, to be seeing this every day when we go to do our other Caveday business. So that, that was the first choice we made. The second choice, really treat it with curiosity and really share that we wanted to grow and we wanted to learn. And even if you don’t, you know, even if you didn’t like our platform where we really want to get better. So, instead of, instead of just saying again, see you later, well, what do we do? What would make us more valuable? We create a little Typeform survey, and tons of people have filled it out really and always had been positive. You know, people really did because we framed it as we want to learn. People were really willing to, I think I mentioned this earlier. We were able to turn some of those, some of that feedback, one into new features, and start saving customers. So sometimes people would just not understand something. So some people would, you know, didn’t know that you could leave a Cave early. And so that, so the membership wasn’t valuable enough to them. We could just say, Hey, just so you know, you can leave early, or just say, no, we have a special deal for students or, you know, they’re just sort of things that would come up over and over again, that just by being curious, we were able to find and catch and change to do something positive.

Ward Sandler: It’s smart and it’s also true. It’s like, yeah, nobody likes to see cancellations. And it’s like one of those weird human psychology bugs, right. Where like, even though there might be like three new signup emails, the one that says cancellation is the one that you think about. And it’s just like, that doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how our brains are working forward, at least. So I hear you about not obsessing and not figuring out a way to kind of deal with that cause it’s going to happen. And you don’t, you also don’t want to like, you know, shut your eyes and not see that there’s anyone’s canceling. It’s important to see it and it’s important to learn from it. Like you mentioned, I’m curious with the type form idea was that automated so that when someone canceled, you sent them a message saying, Hey, uh, yeah, sorry, you’re leaving. We just want to learn how to get better, blah, blah, blah. Here’s a type form link, something like that?

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah. You know, and it was really important to say, like, take this two minutes survey, like we’re not gonna keep you here forever, you know, gotta make sure that it feels doable. And so that’s just how he did it. Something that comes up is that, is that Seth Godin quote, which is like, you know, If someone cancels, it’s not for them, right? Or if it’s, or if someone doesn’t sign up, it’s not for them. And I think the thing that, uh, a maker has to decide is whether, um, it’s not for them or there’s some feedback here that’s worth changing. So sometimes people will say like, it’s too expensive, you know? So we had to decide, is this, is this not for them? Can they not extract the value they need, or is that for this kind of user? Is this not the right value proposition?

Ward Sandler: Yeah. And I’m, I’m actually also curious with the Typeform. Were you offering any kind of financial incentive to fill it out, or was it just purely, Hey, out of the kindness of your heart, give us some, you know, help us get better.

Jeremy Redleaf: No incentive. It was just like, could we have served you better? You know, um, sort of acknowledging that maybe we didn’t fulfill our promise in some way, and so I think, you know, Uh, we had, a large, a large percentage of people filled out the form. It wasn’t like 10%. So I don’t know, maybe, maybe we, we stumbled onto some good framing here, but it was basically, you know, your account is canceled. Is there anything we could’ve done to do better? We really want to learn, take this two-minute survey here and a lot of people, you know, because of, for our business, a lot of people come and go, right? I got a new job and I can’t come anymore, or I just need a break or I’m zoomed out whatever. And it’s not about like, I hate you. And so those people were more than happy to , share like, it’s just not right for me right now. And that’s also really helpful information. While we’re on Seth Godin, here’s is another great blog post it’s, like it’s called What No Means, and I think it’s really helpful. The emotional side of getting a cancellation, so cancellation or no doesn’t mean, you know, you know, I hate you. I’ve fully considered your product, and I think it sucks, or it’s not worth what you’re charging or, it’s not right for the market and there’s no product market fit. Doesn’t mean these things. It just means for this person its a no. There might be so much going on outside of your knowledge or control. And you shouldn’t assume that it’s just because something’s wrong with your service

Ward Sandler: A hundred percent agree. And then also I think by doing this survey and really caring and trying to learn it also, I think helps emotionally to be like, because we tell ourselves a story, right? When we see a cancellation where you just tell ourselves the story without any context. Oh, I guess we suck. I guess this isn’t going to work. And if you read why they canceled, especially if you get some rich data, some rich information through a Typeform, you can start to contextualize it and understand. I mean, it seems like a lot of people are canceling because maybe they just don’t have time or they’re just not ready yet. Or they have a financial burden going on or they’re moving or whatever. And that also helps you kind of emotionally deal with it. It’s like, yeah, life’s going on the world. Doesn’t revolve around your software or your product or your service. Don’t take it so personally, of course, there’s things you could do better again, to make it easy and take less time and blah, blah, blah. But a lot of times a good percentage of cancellations are out of your control, and it’s good to just kind of internalize that. So you don’t feel like it’s a negative thing about you every time you see it, right?

Jeremy Redleaf: Absolutely. Yeah. Uh, yeah, it’s hard. It’s a, it’s a battle. I’m a filmmaker by trade and it was raising money for a movie and I had an investor who, you know, kept meeting, was interested on the fence, and then ultimately said, no. And I just decided to ask why. And he gave me like a pretty definitive, no, he said, sorry. It’s like, I just can’t get there. And I said, would you be willing to share why? And the thing that he couldn’t get there on was actually he misunderstood, and it turned it into an investment. So, you know, it’s, if you can get over that pinch, we often have when we feel rejected or, event abandoned by our customers, it can actually, it can even be, you know, better possibilities even there sometimes.

Ward Sandler: Yeah. A hundred percent. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Jeremy, we really appreciate it. Would you like to share any resources or recommendations for folks trying to learn more about Caveday?

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah, sure. Come, come check us out. We’re at caveday.org. And if you use the code MemberSpace, you can get a three sprint cave for free. Come check it out!

Ward Sandler: Awesome. Thanks, Jeremy.