A Lesson in PR Courtesy of Netflix

This morning I recieved the following message in my email inbox:

Netflix PR Fail
Not the news I wanted to start the day with. I don’t let products ruin my day, but this message didn’t sit well with me for several reasons.

First off, it means I have to pay more for a service I’m already getting… 60% more. That’s huge. Yeah, it’s only $6 but that’s $6 that I won’t have to spend on taking you out to coffee! See, already Netflix is ruining friendships.

I’d like to direct your attention to the first sentence:

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each.

What that basically means is they need more money. Nothing wrong with needing a new business plan to stay afloat and compete with the host of other streaming services that are becoming available… but customers don’t care about you, they care about themselves.

I don’t have a fancy diploma that says I listened to a teacher blab about Public Relations, but I have been doing my own research over the past couple years. If I were to create rules of PR, and I am BY NO MEANS any sort of expert, I’d say #1 would be Customers don’t care about you, they care about themselves. And right now Netflix seems to be telling me that they care don’t care about the customer experience or satisfaction, they care about covering their ass.

Because I’m a geek, I happen to know that Netflix is working on getting new content, is being charged more much money from Comcast, has been funding producers to create exclusive content, and has slowly been adding new streaming content over the past few months. But did they explain that? No. “We need more money” is what most customers will see.

If I were to start paying more for a service or product my first question would be “okay, what more do I get?” If the cost increases, I expect the value to increase as well.

This is where ideal Netflix would step in and say “We’re releasing over 1,000 new titles for your viewing pleasure into our streaming library and will be adding 2,000 more periodically over the next 3 months.”

But ideal Netflix isn’t real Netflix. Instead they give me instructions on how to cancel my service because I’m disgruntled.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

I thought they wanted more money! Keeping current customers should probably be their #1 priority. But now I can cancel if I want to and move over to Hulu+ or Amazon Instant.

Netflix decided not to be tactful and couple their bad news with good news of increased value. They decided to piss people off instead. Just do a search for “Netflix” on Twitter and you’ll see the disgruntleditude*.

*I’ve studied enough linguistics and lexicographgy to know that if you know what I mean then it’s a word. So don’t tell me it’s not a word. It is now.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business.

“… and we hope you’ll stick around,” or something to that effect would’ve been nice.

I’m not mad, I wouldn’t waste my negative energy on so trivial a matter, but I think it’s important to look at this PR Fail with an objective eye so that in art and business we remember to put the customer first. And by putting the customer first, I only mean that they have to THINK that we’re putting them first.

And I suppose I’ll drop the DVD subscription and remain with instant play only. Unfortunately their streaming selection of Kung Fu movies is rather thin. Oh well.

What do you think about all this fuss? If you’re a Netflix subscriber, what plan will you go with?