When it’s time to take your business elsewhere, here’s the right way to exit

exit, leave, end, finish, done, complete, arrow, sign

Can we talk about the end? It’s that moment when you say, “That’s it. I’m taking my business elsewhere.” And you mean it.

It’s the moment when you conclude your interests and a company’s interests are no longer aligned, to put it delicately. It’s time to go.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to leave. I know because I watch people do it all the time, every day. Heck, I’ve had it done to me both on a professional and, sadly, personal level. I have a lot of experience with this.

A recent American Express survey suggests consumers are trigger-happy. After only a single instance of poor customer service, 37 percent of respondents bail out on a company. Another 58 percent say they’d be willing to endure “two to three” instances of bad service. In other words, for 95 percent of American consumers, businesses get three chances at most to get customer service right.

Here’s what you need to know: There’s a right way and a wrong way to split. Almost no one ever hears about the right way, but the wrong way sometimes goes viral.

“You’re already familiar with this story?” asks Andrew Pollis, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. “It’s about a guy who tried to cancel his account with Comcast and was met with a super-aggressive customer service representative who wasn’t really offering any inducements but also wouldn’t let the customer go.”

That’s not how to go your separate ways.

Pollis says it’s common with companies in certain industries, like cable TV.

“That interaction provides an opportunity to rescue business from an impending cancellation,” he explains. “So they have developed interceptive measures. In some instances, a telephone representative is armed with the tools to offer an inducement, like a discounted rate, to entice the consumer not to leave.”

So how do you say “good-bye”?

Know why you’re leaving.
When David Waring, the co-founder of FitSmallBusiness.com, decided to cancel his email marketing software, he knew exactly why. “We found it more complicated to use than originally advertised, and more expensive than another less complicated but just as powerful option,” he says. “So we decided to cancel.” Some customers don’t know why they’re leaving. Maybe they’re just mad at the company, or at themselves, for something over which the business doesn’t even have any control. When a retention specialist phoned Waring, he was ready with an explanation — and a step-by-step process for winning back his business. (It didn’t work, and he left.)

Use logic, not emotion.
Worth emphasizing is that emotion — anger or resentment toward the company — can ruin a perfectly orderly departure. “I advise my clients to leave only for goal-achieving reasons, not tension-relieving reasons,” says Debra Benton, an executive coach. “And then do it in the same manner you’d like it done to you: with logic, not emotion; with notification, not just walking out the door. Give them the respect and courtesy you’d like to get.” It’s worth noting that roughly a quarter of customers who leave end up coming back at some point, so Benton says anger will not serve you well in this situation.

Get out legally (if you can).
And that may not be easy, especially if you’re under contract with the business. You’ll have to read the paperwork and find a legal way to cut your ties. And you might have to get creative. “Assuming you signed a contract, that means they have to provide goods and services to you at the time you exchange money,” says Jameson Drew, who runs a property management company in Los Angeles. “Did said contractor perform sub par, was anything illegally done, or did you just get a better price elsewhere?” If you can get out legally, do it. If not, you may need to negotiate your departure. That’s a topic for another time.

Don’t burn bridges.
People change and companies change. A bad company today may improve, and when it does, you might want to bring your business back. “If the company is important to me and there are significant personal or working relationships with the company, then it’s worth investing in closing the relationship carefully,” says Don Maruska, author of the book “How Great Decisions Get Made.” In business, as in life, there’s no point in alienating the person or company you’re separating from. Keep it professional.

If you feel as if this has turned into a relationship column, give yourself a pat on the back. It is all about relationships.

“Human beings sit on the other side of the table,” says Will Bachman the co-founder of Umbrex, a global community management consultants. “And it is a small world.”

Some day, he notes, you may want to work with the company again. “So, when terminating a relationship, do it with respect and play the infinite game. That is, act as if you’ll be interacting with the other party countless times in the future,” he says.

Good advice. And as someone who has been terminated, fired, dissed and dumped over a lengthy career as a consumer advocate, I can only underscore, highlight and emphasize the wisdom of those words.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend