Small Details, Big Payoff: Customer Opt-Outs

The tiniest thing can have immense consequences for the relationship you have with your customers. A single feature or minor adjustment can be the difference between lost business and a loyal lifer, a referral and a scathing review, low-key efficiency and soul-killing bureaucracy. This series will help you identify and make smart, small choices that can vastly improve the ‘customer experience’ you, your company, and your employees provide.

I recently evaluated a Facebook game called Press Your Luck, which was developed by Ludia Games. Based on the old TV game show of the same name, Press Your Luck looked to be a fun throwback to the show – so when the app asked for permission to link up with my Facebook account, nostalgia kicked in and I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, what I got was a game board that failed to display properly on my screen, no tutorial, no help screens, and a cumbersome UI. So I sighed, left the app, and removed its access to my profile information. The process of initially discovering the game through to revoking its access took me about an hour.

A few days later, I received an email from Ludia about Press Your Luck – sent to the same address connected to my Facebook account. I thought “Well that’s odd.” I double-checked myself and revisited Facebook – sure enough, they weren’t on the list of apps approved to access my information or contact me. Ludia had broken one of the basic rules of customer engagement: don’t bug folks who have explicitly asked you not to!

So, if you’re in the business of collecting customer information or sending users marketing messages, here are a few tips on how you can make the experience better:

1. Easy Access: make finding the information your company has on them simple.
Don’t make your customers/users jump through hoops to find out which of their email addresses you have, whether you have their mailing address, etc. Access is key – via online account, FAQ on your website, and/or a speedy and responsive customer support team. (Note: Most users will NEVER EVER read your site’s Privacy Policy.)

2. Make it easy for your customers to remove their information.
Recently I spent some time trying to close up an old, rarely used email account while simultaneously closing other accounts associated with the address (newsletters, etc). In some awesome instances, I was offered a gloriously simple “remove my account” button. At worst, I had to email customer support incessantly – and when they finally responded, they told me there was nothing they could do and recommended I fill my account with dummy info. This laissez-faire approach to managing the customer’s private info sows mistrust and leaves you with junk data clogging up your database. Make it simple for a user to remove their account with your system (such as an option on your website, or a specific person to email). With the current climate of ‘being Gawkered’ it’s more important than ever to make sure your customers have control of their data.

3. Respect the unsubscribe.
Give your users an easy way to opt-out of receiving emails, phone calls, and mailers. And once they opt-out, DON’T SEND THEM ANYTHING. Just don’t do it. While you may think that you’re jumping on the opportunity to get them back, you are actually being a pest. And in today’s social world, this means they will not only get upset, but also complain to their family, post to their friends on Facebook, tweet to their followers, and let loose on their blogs (remember my Ludia story?). So now you’ve not only lost that customer forever (there was a chance they could have come back later, but you blew it!), you left their friends and family with a negative impression of your business. Word of mouth is huge, especially among women consumers – so don’t blow it. Sure, give them an easy way to reactivate or re-opt-in, but don’t ignore their wishes when they opt-out.

So that’s it. Make things easy to find, easy to update, and respect your customers’ boundaries. Sounds simple, but it makes all the difference in the world.