Tag Archives: netflix

Reed Hastings is No Steve Jobs

10 Oct

Reed Hastings is No Steve Jobs

Only a few weeks after proudly announcing their new brand, Qwikster, Netflix, again, very publicly announced they had made a mistake. Apparently Reed Hastings has seen the foolishness of his decision and decided to go back to doing the thing they should have done all along – keep Netflix as a single entity:

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.”

Hallelujah. Praise Jesus. Can I get an Amen?

While I think it’s great that Netflix came to their collective senses, I feel like this may have put the final nail in Hastings’ coffin. How much more will the board take before they tire of these Romper Room-like CEO brand adventures?

With Steve Jobs still fresh on my mind, this got me thinking about how you’d never see this kind of public meltdown from Apple. Even their most colossal missteps were handled with more grace and sure-footedness than this Qwikster debacle. So while we all continue to wax poetic about Steve’s achievements and what they’ve meant to our everyday lives, let’s not forget the way that he so perfectly guided and led Apple to avoid catastrophes like this latest from Netflix. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not  fair to compare Hastings to Jobs or hold him to the same standards. Not even a little bit. Steve was a once-in-a-lifetime genius. Hastings is, well, probably not long for the Netflix world I would think. My guess is ouster comes before the holidays.

What do you think of all this Qwikster, no Qwikster stuff? I’d love to get your comments below.

Netflix Stumbles Again with Qwikster Rebranding

19 Sep

Netflix Stumbles Again with Qwikster Rebranding

This morning I got an email and saw a blog post from Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, that started with the words “I messed up. I owe you an explanation.” Well, Reed, strike two. After reading your blog post, I’d say you messed up again. Let me explain.

Reed was emailing the Netflix subscriber base (it initially appeared) to apologize for the price increase fiasco that happened a short time ago:

“It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology.”

Instead, Reed was really writing to announce that Netflix would be spinning off its DVD-by-mail service into a new company called “Qwikster” (Horrible name by the way). Reed says they chose the name because “it refers to quick delivery.” Um, more likely because there are slim pickins’ out there for  dot com domains and you took the best of worst available. Anyway, this is where I think Netflix made a huge PR and marketing faux pax.

Why would anyone choose to birth a new brand under the dark cloud of an apology? It’s bad enough that the apology was flat and showed no remorse for their recent actions:

“I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.”

In fact, it wasn’t an apology at all, but instead a bait and switch. Netflix didn’t understand then, and still doesn’t seem to get it now, that people aren’t upset over the way the price increase announcement was made. Customers are pissed because Netflix doubled the cost of their service overnight without providing any extra value. In fact, when you take into account the Starz debacle, Netflix has actually starting charging much more, for much less. Notice how that massive decimation of their streaming catalog wasn’t even mentioned in this morning’s apology/rebranding announcement. My guess is that this is going to inflame the situation even more. Not only did they tear the Band-Aid off an already raw wound, they did it under the celebratory shish-boom-bah of launching Qwikster.

So, if I could, I’d like to boil this down to a few key takeaways that are applicable to all brands:

1. Don’t apologize if you’re not willing to fix the problem. Doing so just refocuses the spotlight on your screw-up.

2. Understand why your customers are upset before you make a ham-handed attempt at fixing it. The Netflix team thinks that this announcement is going to appease their irked customers – it won’t. Today’s parade was all about Netflix – not about their users. That tells me that Netflix doesn’t understand the core issue.

3. Never announce an unrelated new initiative under the cloud of a mistake. Netflix would have us believe that Qwikster is their answer, their “make good” on the mistake they made a couple of months back. Not only does this not address customers’ frustrations, but it taints the launch of a new brand  birthed in the wake of controversy.

4. Communicate things to your customers that are of valuable to them, not just because they’re valuable to you. While Netflix basks in the glory of their new DVD-by-mail brand, their customers are still choking down that massive price increase. To make matters worse, they’ll now have to decipher two separate charges on their credit card statement from two different companies. That sounds like a value-add, right?

In closing I want to say I’ve long been a fan of Netflix. In fact, I’ve praised their customer service on this blog before. But, their actions as of late puzzle me and make me wonder what’s really going on over at HQ. It seems to me that the time for a competitor to step up and eat their lunch is upon us. Any takers?

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

28 Mar

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Why is it that companies have such a hard time apologizing to customers? I mean, sure, when they get called out by the media the “sorry” comes flowing out of them like a faucet, but why should it take getting caught to fess up? Yes, I’m looking at you Microsoft Bing.

We shouldn’t always have to complain to companies about poor service or a problem on their end before they step in – especially if it’s a widespread problem that the company has full knowledge of. Why can’t you just get out in front of it, apologize for the problem and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it?

Netflix, surprisingly, is doing just that. I have been a member of their streaming only service for about 5 months. During that time I’ve received numerous emails asking me about the quality of a particular movie or TV show I recently watched. It was a simple non-intrusive message asking me to click the option that most represented my feelings about the overall quality of that particular experience.

In addition to those emails, I have received two others apologizing for technical issues with their service. On both of these occasions I was unaware there had even been an issue, but apparently the problem was widespread enough that Netflix thought it best to get out in front of it and take responsibility.

Not only are they taking full responsibility for a problem I wasn’t even aware of, but they are offering credit for the downtime. Sure, it’s 3% on an $8 a month plan, but still it’s the gesture that counts to most people.

I get that as Americans our society has some weird problem with apologies. I think that we feel like it makes us appear weak. It’s no surprise that sort of unapologetic invincibility has become a mainstay of our corporate culture. We need to get over that. There’s very little damage that can’t be undone to a customer relationship by simply and sincerely offering an apology – a simple “my bad.” Netflix clearly understands that. In fact, I have more brand loyalty to them now than before. It’s easy for a company to backslap and hi-five when things are going right, but it shows you the true soul of an organization when they have to react and address problems.

What do you think – does an apology show weakness or responsibility by a company? Are there other companies you do business with that approach service in the same way Netflix did in this case?