5 Tips for Better Customer Success: Respond to Upset Customer Downgrades Effectively

For effective customer success, respond to upset customer downgrades proactively. Just because a client downgrades, they don’t have to churn. In fact, you can use a downgrade as an opportunity to remind customers of the value of your product and the quality of your customer service, giving them a potential incentive to upgrade again. You can also use downgrades as data to gain insight into where customers are experiencing issues with your product, allowing you to make adjustments and improvements. Here are five tips for turning downgrades into opportunities.

1. Deliver Excellent Customer Experience

Poor customer experience can prompt downgrades. Delivering superior service can discourage downgrades in a couple of ways. First, when customers are satisfied with their experience, they’re less likely to downgrade in the first place. Second, if they do downgrade because of dissatisfaction with your product or for other reasons such as budget, at least they’ll remember that you delivered good service, increasing the likelihood of them changing their mind about their downgrade decision later.

One way to improve the quality of your customers’ experience is by implementing best practices at each stage of your customer journey. Totango allows you to set up automated workflows called SuccessPlays which trigger best practices applicable to what your data indicates about your customer’s current experience. For example, if data on a customer in the onboarding stage shows that they haven’t completed their profile in a designated amount of time, an automated email can be triggered pointing the customer toward a tutorial, or a notification can be sent to a customer success agent alerting them of the need to assist the customer.

2. Make It Clear How to Downgrade an Account

Part of delivering a good customer experience is making it easy to downgrade. While it may be tempting to make the downgrading process difficult on the assumption that this will discourage downgrades, the fact is that inconveniencing a customer who is already dissatisfied enough to downgrade can make them irritated or even hostile, hurting your chances of getting them to reverse their downgrade decision. You are better off delivering the same smooth experience during the downgrading process that you strive to deliver during other phases of your customer’s journey. This communicates a consistent brand experience that your customer will remember when they make future purchasing decisions.

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One way to make downgrading hassle-free is to provide clear instructions on how to downgrade. Don’t hide the directions or create barriers to canceling billing. Provide clear instructions on how to complete the downgrading process. You can even set up an automated workflow to send customers emails on how to downgrade.


3. Communicate the Cost of Downgrading

While you should make it technically easy to downgrade, you should also make it cognitively challenging from a sales perspective. When customers are about to downgrade, remind them first of what features, functionality and benefits their decision will cost them.

One way to do this is by setting up your downgrade process so that an automated in-app alert gets triggered giving the customer reasons why they should wait before completing their downgrade. A variation on this is to set up an automated email that the customer gets sent as a step in completing the downgrade process, giving them another chance to reconsider their decision.

4. Offer Discounts and Incentives

When drawing customers’ attention to the cost of downgrading, you can also give them a positive motivation for sticking with your product. One way to do this is by offering a discount. For example, if you use the strategy suggested above and give customers a last-minute chance to reconsider downgrading, you can include a one-time discount offer with this message.

A similar approach is to offer an incentive. For example, you can offer customers access to bonus features normally only available if they upgrade. This can not only serve to dissuade them from downgrading, but it can even provide an incentive to consider upgrading to obtain access to other advanced features.

5. Analyze Why Customers Are Downgrading

Downgrades can provide you with valuable business insight. By tracking how often customers downgrade and what their activity history indicates prior to downgrading, you can detect patterns that lend you insight into the reasons for downgrading. This allows you to make adjustments that improve your customer experience by addressing the issues triggering downgrades.


For example, you might notice that a significant number of downgrades occur after customers have started using a particular feature but have not continued to use it frequently after initial adoption. You may find that taking steps to promote higher user adoption of this particular feature tends to reduce downgrades.

For Winning Customer Success, Respond to Upset Customer Downgrades Proactively

Downgrades don’t have to be downers for your business. A downgrade can sow the seeds of a customer churn or a future sale depending on how you handle it. Delivering great customer service, including making it easy to downgrade, can show customers that you value them and their business, removing one reason for leaving. You can give them further reason to stick around by reminding them of the value they would lose by downgrading and by offering discounts and incentives. Turn your downgrade data into valuable business intelligence by tracking patterns in your downgrade history and identifying places where you could implement improvements in your customer experience.

Totango provides KPI and dashboard tools for tracking your downgrade data and automated workflows for optimizing the customer experience to minimize downgrades. Try it free to experience how automation can help you track and manage downgrades.

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