Netflix Changes Its Mind, Will Keep Profiles

from the listening-to-customers-is-good dept

A few weeks back, we were one of many who questioned Netflix’s decision to take away its “profiles” feature, that allows a single account holder to have separate queues for different people in his or her household. For the folks who used this feature, it was quite popular, and our main complaint was the bogus language that Netflix used, claiming that removing this feature was somehow a benefit to users. Obviously, most folks who used that feature regularly thought it was somewhat obnoxious to take away a favorite feature and to tell them it was for their own good — despite not having any plans for a replacement.

However, Netflix surprised a lot of folks by actually listening to the complaints from many users and agreeing to keep the feature, though it won’t promise to do any more enhancements to it. It’s so rare to hear of companies actually listening to their users, that it’s nice to see Netflix actually do so. Of course, Netflix could potentially make even more fans of the company by somehow opening up the profiles platform so that others could develop for it — now that Netflix doesn’t want to do so. That may not be possible depending on how things are set up, but that could really turn what was a negative into a strong positive for the company.

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Companies: netflix

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Comments on “Netflix Changes Its Mind, Will Keep Profiles”

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14 Comments
Dan Leithauser (profile) says:

non-negotiable terms

Below is what I wrote on a blog a couple of weeks ago about Netflix tossing out non-negotiables terms.

[I take the comments back about Netflix–welcome back to the real world where consumers like to believe they are always right and things are negotiable. Now if I could just figure out how the rest of corporate America runs…]

I guess the attitudes and concepts of Tom Peters “Thriving on Choas” are dead at Netflix. They correctly executed on “fleet of foot” from the beginning, but now are leaving out the key element–customers. No point in being fleet of foot when you are losing LOYAL and VOCAL customers is there? Losing LOYAL customers is not churn, it is a disaster.

A key point here is that the elimination of a feature that customers like is presented as a “non-negotiable”, “decision is final” management decision. This is the attitude so many large companies take when they think they are the only seller on the market. People (customers) generally do not like non-negotiables. It takes them back to the unconscious transactional analysis that they are “children” and the company tossing out the non-negotiable is the “parent”. We all know how much we liked being children and parents telling us what to do! “Adult to adult” transactions are always more productive.

Everything, absolutely everything, is negotiable–the idea is to make people believe they have a choice, that negotiation is possible, even when they *know* it probably isn’t.

A better strategy for Netflix? Say “we are temporarily discontinuing this feature for system improvements”. That starts a dialog. And, depending on where that dialog goes determines where the feature goes in the future. Maybe after a couple of months of “temporary discontinuation”, Netflix finds that the churn level is too high–and they bring “profiles” back. Maybe customers find out that they don’t really miss it and like Netflix anyway–even those that went over to the competition. The whole point is that if the changes were NOT presented as non-negotiables, more information can be gained and churn rates can be reduced.

Unfortunately, arrogance and stupidity, are part of our corporate culture today… and THAT is what is killing American business.

Fitz (user link) says:

Comfort over Innovation

I personally don’t use multiple profiles, so I wasn’t concerned in the slightest about their loss. In fact, hearing that they were doing away with them got me excited.
What would cause them to do away with a feature that they can see a lot of people use? If it is technically holding them back from creating newer and better features for the rest of the site.
I started wondering what cool new tools I could use, and how much easier the site would be… and then I got an email saying people didn’t want that. They chose comfort over innovation.

Leroy says:

Now deal with the cause

Now, Netflix needs to identify the “person” responsible for convincing management that removing the profiles feature would be an improvement, and terminate his/her employment, lest they accept advice from this person in the future. The author of the “remove profiles is an improvement” obviously doesn’t understand their customer base and should not be in charge of anything beyond emptying the trash and cleaning toilets at Netflix.

If you owned a DVD rental by mail business, would you hire this person? I would like to know who this was so I don’t accidentally hire him.

“L”

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