Use it or lose it


A few days ago, I noticed that one of my recurring bills was a little bit higher than usual. So, I went to the provider’s website and tried to sign in. I was virtually certain that I typed in the right information, but it kept giving me a weird and unhelpful error. Figuring that it couldn’t hurt, I clicked on the link to reset my password, and quickly learned what the problem was. I hadn’t signed in to the account for a few months, so they deactivated my online access without telling me.

Getting the online access reinstated was pretty easy, but I shouldn’t have had to go through that process at all. Rather, if the provider has some sort of rule in place that automatically deactivates accounts that haven’t been accessed in a couple of months, then the smart thing to do is help customers avoid the deactivation in the first place.

How would this work? Easy: just send customers an email a week or two before the deactivation is scheduled to occur. In that email, explain what they need to do — e.g. signing in to the account prior to the deactivation date — to keep their online access in place.

I’ve actually seen at least one company do this very smoothly, and it made perfect sense from both the provider’s and customer’s point of view. By giving people a heads up before turning off their online access, you can virtually ensure that anyone who wants to keep the account active will take action to do so, while still enabling you to clean up the truly unwanted accounts that prompted the creation of the automatic deactivation rules in the first place.