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[Case Study] Adobe Subscription Model Examined Through the Unsubscribe Process

Here’s a quick look at what I went through with my termination of Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps and the case studies on Adobe’s subscription models.

■ Adobe’s Temptation – Offering discount plans

The opt-out process consists of following four steps:
Step 1: Enter Reason for Cancellation
Step 2: Notice of Benefits Not Received after Cancellation
Step 3: Other Offerings
Step 4: Cancel or Maintain

It’s a simple step, but Adobe is working hard to prevent customers from leaving. I enjoyed Adobe Apps with a low-cost student plan. When I tried to discontinue my plan, I was surprised that Adobe once again suggested me with the even-discounted price.

In the third step after entering the plan cancellation process, like the image above shows, Adobe asks you “Owww… Are you really leaving? Even with this discount?” At this stage, if you press the “Accept offer” button, you will continue the plan with a discounted monthly price (or even a few months for free). I, too, has once been tempted and clicked “yessss, please”.

How to hold the ankle of the customer who leaves – account termination flow

Rather than suggesting ‘Let me give you an offer’ right away, Adobe’s flow seems to touch people’s hearts.

1) Why don’t you like our service? – Collect feedback

Adobe first collects multiple-choice data for canceling your plan(You can answer in a narrative form as well). On the right side of this screen, the plan and price currently in use are clearly stated. At the top, you can notice how much more steps you have to go through to ‘cancel’. The bottom sticky bar shows whether to cancel (close) or continue the current step, and the blue button clearly guides it is the next button.

The reasons for the cancellation are the following: It can be classified into price, product, usage, etc.

– It’s too expensive
– I don’t use it in projects anymore.
– The service wasn’t as good as I expected.
– The product was too complicated
– I don’t use it often
– I want to change the price plan.
– I have another Adobe membership.
-Other (can type cmments)

2) Canceling your plan means this – details

It’s a bit annoying to have a penalty, but if there’s a penalty, they’ll guide you. It also provides details on which services you can’t use, including “Most of your favorite apps are no longer available”, and specifically how many files can no longer be edited.

In my case, I was a bit confused at the early cancellation fee of 90,000 won. I didn’t realize that the plan was tied from a monthly bill to a “one-year contract”, at the time I was caught up in the discounting temptation last time. i didn’t check it thoroughly…. 🙁 I felt like I was stabbed in the back, and I went over that stage a little irritatingly.

3) Would you reconsider? – Benefit proposals

This step is the page of temptation that i showed at the beginning of this essay. Adobe offers a discount again, or introduce you to another plan, or have a one-on-one chat. I was amazed by Adobe’s smooth flow to solve customer’s questions at every page, but I’m annoyed by the penalty I’ve already been informed abruptly! I immediately turned on the customer consultation chat.

If you accept the offer, your plan will be extended with the discounted prices without any more steps. If you want to pay a penalty and cancel, you might press cancel button… but, please, don’t. Adobe has a customer consultation chat which can waive your penalty fee. Let’s check what happens during the customer’s consultation chat.

■ Endless Subscription Temptation, yet a Neat Customer Experience – consultation chat

The consultation chat is conducted in a flow similar to the website. First, they’ll hear why you want to unsubscribe, and you’ll get the best(?) offer again to meet your needs. When I talked about the penalty, they offered ne another three months for free. They asked me to try more and they can waive the penalty at any time I want.

Because I decided not to continue, I asked them to ancel, and they immediatly cancel my plan, of course, without the penalty fee. The whole process lasted only about 10 minutes.

■ Cancelled complete mail / customer satisfaction survey

After cancelling, the mail will be delivered immediately. The email briefly says that the subscription was canceled as requested, along with the case number. I would liked to see which plans were canceled and prices, however, it didn’t show me the exact one. Because I kept wondering if a penalty fee was really imposed or not. (There’s no more information in my account, and nothing else has been charged, i guess everything went well..)

I also clicked on the customer satisfaction survey from the email. It takes less than two minutes to survey, and a total of 10 questions are not burdensome. Topics on the survey are: customer support experience, staff assessment, the degree to which you personally made your efforts to resolve the issue, how many times you contacted Adobe to resolve the issue, what you did to find a solution by yourself, satisfaction with adobe subscription services, whether you used trial/paid version, why you subscribed to Adobe, why cancel, and the possibility of resuming your subscription.

It was good to ask how much effort one person had made to solve his/her problem both qualitatively and quantitatively. In addition, asking self-diagnosis technology, i.e. web search, community forum search, etc., would be good data for Adobe Team when creating content in the future.

■ Adobe subscription model

Adobe used the Pay-as-you-go model before switching to SaaS. That is, you buy a copy once and use it for a lifetime. The problem with pay-as-you-go models is that they are slow to update products. This is because even if the update is completed internally, it cannot be updated unless the product cycle is exceeded. If the product cycle is not constant, consumers may wait to buy the next product rather than buying it now. Also, it will cause dissatisfaction with the coming out of a better product in such a short time. Adobe’s product cycle was 18 months at the time, and the pace of product improvement could not keep up with consumer requirements.

It was unconventional at the time, but Adobe’s adoption of a SaaS-based subscription model was a natural step. The advantage of the subscription model is that it is strong in generating cash and can be predicted not only by consumers but also by companies. You can also seamlessly switch to a free trial->paid subscription. Because the price is relatively low, it can attract more customers, and the customer’s life cycle is extended.

However, it should be noted that cancellation is easy as it is easy to sign up. Therefore, the customer experience must be managed continuously. If it’s an initial service, there’s a challenge until you have enough subscribers. The metrics you should be concerned about in the subscription model are Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). For more information, see the following link (click):

Adobe continues to offer free and discounted benefits, allowing customers to experience more Adobe software. Until canceling a subscription becomes painful – it’s like a strategy to keep using the product and getting familiar with it. It also aims to lower the CAC without missing customers who have visited it once.

Takeaways from Adobe’s cancellation process: Keep a good experience until the customer leaves. Keeping customers “subscribed” may be more important than boosting sales right away. Let’s benchmark Adobe’s screen design and guidance.

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