I’ve recently become astutely aware of the consistent and bad habit of startups to not include the option to delete a user account within the product. Some startups make the process of leaving a product extremely difficult, requiring users to jump through hoops and slowing the break-up process with intervention after intervention.
Last week, Seth Godin wrote an insightful post on how businesses should handle customers who reject their product and want a refund. Typically businesses make “de-friending” painful and a headache for customers. I agree with Seth Godin that this practice is backwards and is driven by bad marketing principles for the following reasons.
- Trap or value - Trapping users versus holding on to users are disparate motivations. Preventing a clean breakup appears to “trap users” over hooking users with value. To be frank, how much value do you gain by trapping users who do not want to use your service? Trapping users makes your business appear less legitimate.
- Users who want to leave are motivated - Users will typically use inactivity as a defacto means to delete their account, so users who are proactively looking to leave a service are quite motivated. This motivation is probably negative. Slowing down a motivated user is frustrating on both ends of the spectrum, whether building out a profile or removing their profile.
- Don’t make the break up hard or a user will never come back - If a user wants to leave, they probably have a number of negative reasons. Is aggressively preventing account deletion going to improve a company’s standing in the eyes of the user? No, it adds more fuel to the fire.
- Lazy product - Lacking an account delete option within the product shows laziness. This is a core and basic feature. I find quite ridiculous when companies say to users “We have not had time to build this feature” after more than six months.
- Users are free people - Users should be free to choose what products they want to use and want to leave. Companies that do not allow users to delete their account counter the central metaphysical purpose of the Internet: individual empowerment.
Below are services I’ve used and do not allow a user to delete their account within the product.
- Rally - Requires calling customer support.
- Gogobot - Requires emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kippt - Requires emailing email@example.com.
- Bitly - No option.
- Skype - Users cannot delete accounts. Users can only manually erase personal info.
- Quora - Requires emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Spotify - Requires emailing email@example.com.
- Skillshare - No option.
- Branchout - Only deactivation.
- Path - Only deactivation.
- Facebook - Only deactivation.
- Google - Only deactivation.
I’d like it to be a standard in tech to have a friendly and easy breakup flow. Everyone has had or heard of an awkward breakup in real life, between individuals. How strange would it be if you wanted to end a relationship, but the other party said no or “please send me a written notification”. Don’t be that guy.
Go to AccountKiller to find out more info on best and worst tech company practices.