Mistake #36: Let Customer Service handle it!

Netflix had the week from hell. First of all, I am not a movie fanatic, so I don’t use the service. I know people who do and they swear by it. I have gone to other brick and mortar stores to find videos for my sons. Only to be frustrated that the movie was rented and there was a waiting list. So, I’m an advocate of Netflix innovation and service.


With their biggest service disruption ever, impacting 8.4 million subscribers, Netflix delivery system was down last week. In March, a one-day outage caused movie shipments to be held up for 11 hours; some made it out, some didn’t.  In July 2007, the company suffered an 18-hour power outage.


Last week during the chaos, Netflix was slowly getting the shipping back on track, but only to mail out movies to some customers that were already ordered and in the hands of customers. One customer calls to inform customer service, only to get a recording to call another number (always a bad thing to make your customers call number, after number, after number…). By Friday morning, Netflix blog reported that orders and shipping were getting back to normal operations, and offering a 15% credit to customers’ next billing statement. Another post 12 hours later thanks all Netflix customers for their patience.


Let’s look at the events from last week:

 1. Outage.

 2. Delayed shipping.

 3.  Problems reaching customer service by customers, due to so many customer    calls (can you imagine?!!).

4.  Delivery back on track and posting such on the company blog.

5.  Thanks customers for patience on the company blog, with shipping even occurring on Saturday (a deviation from the company norm to ensure delivery).

I believe that Netflix did all it could under the circumstances. However, I would hate to be in the inside lookout out (looking back at other outages, there must be a lot of finger pointing going on!).  

What is Netflix plan so that this does not happen again? Customer service gets the brunt of the disgruntled customers. How will customer service be given the flexibility to ensure that there is customer retention following this episode?


There are recovery steps that Netflix may take (should take, are taking – who knows?!) over the next several weeks:


1. Create an incredible offer right now for new customers to join. It is a known fact that once something like this happens, it is unlikely to happen again. Say so right on the website and have it come from the CEO, Reed Hastings.


2. Give customer service the flexibility to provide incentives to current and prospective customers over the next month. Let them do whatever it takes to keep a customer. Free movies for a week? 


3. Make sure that, internally, customer service is awarded or acknowledged for its efforts. Provide an incentive program for staff for retaining customers over the next three months – and getting new customers to join.


4. Request that IT put a plan together a backup plan so that outages are a thing of the past, with one contingency after another.


Lastly, pray it doesn’t happen again! Otherwise, after three strikes, Netflix is out!

















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