Customer Communication

I recently got an email from Netflix telling me that they were changing their service structure — splitting out the DVD by mail and the online streaming of content into two separate offerings with separate pricing structures.  The email said that if I wanted to continue to receive the services I had now, I didn’t need to take any action.  Fairly straightforward…

Just a couple of days ago, I got a very apologetic second email from the Netflix CEO.  Turns out they had gotten a significant amount of feedback from customers and there was a little more to it than the first email would lead you to believe.  With the separation of the two services, there will now be two different web sites — one for managing the queue of DVD’s I’d like to receive by mail, and one where I can access my account for streaming video.  There is a name change coming for the DVD service.  Oh, and there will be two billing entries instead of one.  So, a little more impact than simply “do nothing, and you’ll get everything as before”.

This is a great example of how not to communicate change to your customers.  When you are doing your stakeholder analysis and your communication planning, identify exactly what the impact will be from the point of view of each stakeholder and then incorporate some element in the communication plan that will ensure you are telling your customers / stakeholders in plenty of time the full story about what will be changing for them, when it will change, and the net effect to them.

The positive to this story is that Netflix recognized that they screwed up and they ultimately made it right.  And I’m going to bet that next time they’ll make sure their customers know the full story from the beginning.

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