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Listen to your customers, or else!

By July 1, 2008September 5th, 20194 Comments
Netflix at home

Netflix Profiles makes if possible for customers to share a movie queue with one or more people in their household. So, for my three-movie pack, my wife I could each have our own queues, and we could have one for our kids to share. The movies would rotate, but it’s all on one account.

It’s a popular feature, but in mid-June, Netflix sent the following message to its customers:


We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

There was an uprising against the decision. Customers called and emailed. Bloggers blogged. Online petitions were created. Negative word of mouth popped up everywhere.

Yesterday, Netflix relented:

In less than 24 hours, there have been 366 comments on the Netflix community blog. Most are saying “thank you for listening.” Many are saying they would have left if Profiles was discontinued.

Netflix dodged a bullet. Some of their heaviest users and passionate fans consider this feature one of the most important parts of their account.

Kudos to Netflix for listening, swallowing their pride, and making this right. Because they didn’t sit on this—because they engaged their customers—Netflix turned what was a negative story into a story of a company that’s willing to listen, is able to accept they were wrong, and fix problems quickly.

The windfall for Netflix? Lots of free publicity and possibly improved customer retention. You read that right. In most categories, customers that have a service issue that is resolved to their satisfaction are actually less apt to leave than a customer that has never had any service issues at all.

Who is doing a good job of listening to their customers?

Comment below to share.

. . .
Inspiration for this post was from my partner Bill Boyd, ABC. Thanks, Bill!

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • While I agree that listening to customers is important, a company must also strategically determine which customers they should listen to, since not all customers agree on certain points. In fact, contrary to the pithy phrase, customers are NOT always right. For example, I’m sure there are Netflix customers who would love to see the company carry hardcore porn; I’m sure there are others who would love to see anything that doesn’t have “family values” banned from Netflix. In such a case, Netflix should trust experience and expertise to make the right decision, and not just capitulate to the loudest voices. Conversely, Dunkin’ Donuts recently generated negative publicity and angered both liberals and Arab-Americans by capitulating to some right wingers regarding an ad campaign starring Rachel Ray. I just wrote on these topics, including an article entitled, “Don’t Believe Everything You Hear: Why Listening to Your Customers can be Hazardous to Your Health.” As I tell my students, don’t just follow “best practices” blindly — think them through carefully and strategically.

  • Deston says:

    I always love it when a company says, “we’ll be eliminating a service to improve service.”

  • Freddy,

    I agree wholeheartedly. Failure to evaluate your which customer segments are most valuable is irresponsible.

    I’m not sure if Netflix did their due diligence on this one—I get the feeling this was an engineering decision, not one based on customer preferences.

    What’s important is that, unlike some companies (governments, even) they didn’t make a decision in a vacuum, then decide to be bullheaded and stick with it.

    They responded, and since Netflix has built up a lot of brownie points with its customers, it appears they’ve been forgiven.

    I’m sure you’d also agree that not all customers should be treated the same, either.

    A high volume customer that doesn’t price shop is very different from one that spends little and negotiates everything.

    After all, if Apple did everything their customers told them, a Macbook Pro would be a completely different (and less valuable) company.

    I think I’m going to need to write a post on that topic. Or you can, and I’ll link to it!

    Happy marketing.

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