Recently, a widely-used service made changes to their offerings, and then made even more changes, further confusing their already-confused customer base.
Did someone say Facebook? Whoops, I meant Netflix?
Last summer, Netflix informed members of a price increase, leading to a huge customer backlash. Then, in a response to that backlash, the service announced it will split the business into streaming-only and mail-service DVDs. The customer response: Netflix is poised to lose about 1 million more customers than it had projected losing as a result of the July price change.
As a business, you should know your business plan before making and announcing changes to your company; failure to do so creates confusion and compromises loyalty. In both business and communications, confusion is your enemy.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “perception is nine tenths of reality.” Change = uncertainty. Most people are uncomfortable with/dislike uncertainty, so it’s imperative that communications work to counter any uncertainty. When making changes to your business, keys to successful communications are:
1) An overarching strategy, and laser focus on that strategy throughout.
2) Clarify your messages beforehand, and make those messages your Bible; consistency and clarity are key.
3) Explain to customers why the changes are necessary, and how they will be beneficial.
4) Let customers know how much you value their business.
5) Coordinate communications across all platforms – internal, external, company-controlled, third-party and social.
6) Be responsive; make people available and empower them to answer questions, and post answers in a visible place.
We always tell customers – it takes a very long time to build a reputation (and gain trust), but just a moment to lose it. Netflix is losing customers and its shares are losing value. It’s an innovative company and I don’t doubt that it will rebuild, but it’s going to take some time and effort, and a much stronger communication strategy.
I’m a great case in point. I’ve been a fan of Netflix since its inception and consider myself a brand loyalist. But the recent changes have left me feeling like the company’s taking advantage; costs are increasing, and the offering hasn’t changed. I realized we could get everything we watch on streaming through Hulu.com or HBO.com. For now we’ll keep the mail-order DVD service, but I’ve heard Blockbuster has a streaming service in the works for the fall…