Now Reading
Are you ‘quiet closing?’ Your customers deserve better

360 Magazine 
in Print


Are you ‘quiet closing?’ Your customers deserve better

“Oh no,” I said to myself while I was walking around downtown last week. “Not again.”

Just off Yonge St, which is the main artery connecting Toronto’s core, I saw that Wish, a low-key restaurant I had loved for years, was gone.

It wasn’t a surprise, really – there have been businesses of every kind shuttering their doors since the pandemic began – but I would have done something if I’d known.

Maybe I would have taken my wife there one last time. I might have even sent a note via e-mail, letting them know I was sorry to see them go.

Instead, I was just left with disappointment, the sad end of so many customer experiences.

As a local publication called Streets of Toronto noted, though, this kind of bad taste is being left in a lot of people’s mouths, a phenomenon they dubbed “Quiet Closing”:

“Take a walk down any of Toronto’s streets and you’ll find  a number of  boarded-up windows, while more often than not, customers are likely to experience deleted social media accounts, disconnected phone lines, expired websites and owners who are almost impossible to get a hold of,” the article said, quoting a customer who said she felt personally offended she doesn’t get informed beforehand.

Whether in Toronto or elsewhere, of course, closing up shop is surely a heartbreaking moment for everyone involved. The pain might be such they just don’t think they can stomach a final farewell.

Assuming these restauranteurs are wealthy enough to retire early, however, they’ll likely need to attract customers again some day. Their best bet will be customers of their previous establishment. And that means they’ll need to explain themselves.

Quietly closing down a product or service 

The same thing is true in other forms of quiet closing, even if a business doesn’t shut down entirely. I recently asked a denim brand about some jeans they had been offering that were made out of hemp. They no longer exist. “To be honest, they weren’t really selling,” someone from the brand told me.

I was able to ask because I also write about fashion. Other customers likely got a 404 error if they checked online. How often does this happen to you – and how much time do you spend looking for something you had seen with your own eyes before drawing the inevitable conclusion?

See Also

Although it’s not pleasant to think about, CX is not just about successfully providing products and services into eternity. It’s a journey that begins, and will end one day. Given challenges in the economy, this might be a good time to ensure that an exit strategy is part of the CX program you develop.

I think there are generally three steps to take here:

1. Be transparent and empathetic: Tell customers what happened, through their preferred communications channel. If you can, provide the rationale. Recognize that this will be disappointing in some cases.

2. Offer alternatives: Some smart brands will have redirects online with a message that says, “That item is no longer available. What about these options?” If a business is closing entirely, why not direct people to competitor? At this point you have little to lose.

3. Close with a timeline — and gratitude: Don’t shroud the end in mystery. Give people a chance to order products within a reasonable period of time. And instead of the sign you sometimes see on a door that thanks customers for their years of patronage, round up any relevant imagery from social media into a collage. Leave them with memories of why your experience was worth having. Celebrate the fact that, at least for a time, you were able to deliver it.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 Belton Court, Whitby, ON L1N 5P1, Canada

Scroll To Top