Usually, when you call to cancel a service, the person on the phone will transfer you to the customer retention department. There, they will try to bribe you into staying with discounts, free month of service, and the like. But if you do customer retention right, you start much, much earlier!
Instead of waiting until your dissatisfied customer calls to tell you they are leaving, you can foster a relationship with them while they still like you. Case in point: a gift that I just received from my online store provider, Volusion.
I don't particularly care for the little gift, and the cuteness of the title "My Big Ideas" is totally lost on me. However what worked was the note.
It fell out of the envelope when I was taking out the little notebook, and I missed it at first. When I picked it up and saw the "personal note" printed on the envelope, I rolled my eyes internally.
"Riiiight," my internal dialogue went. "A personal note. Of course."
But my curiosity won over my cynicism and I opened the envelope to reveal a -- GASP! -- hand-written note. A bona-fide hand-written note.
I have seen these before also, and know that they can be just as impersonal as a mass email, but this one revealed that the author actually took the 30 seconds to load my page and pick out one thing they liked about it.
I doubt they spent hours rapt in awe, admiring my storefront. But they actually took the time to visit it, that is certain.
And I can dig that.