5 Customer Support Strategies to Learn from Netflix

Written by Can Ozdoruk on Apr 19, 2021

Netflix competes on customer happiness. In the uber competitive and dynamic video streaming landscape, this is one of the ways they’ve remained on top. That’s because the company is not simply customer focused, but is customer obsessed. 

Neftlix has a lot of competition when it comes to consumer attention. The company competes not only with the growing number of video streaming companies (Hulu, Youtube TV, Disney+, Paramount+, Peacock, HBO Now, etc.) but also with video games: “We compete with Fortnite more than HBO” (Netflix said in a shareholder letter).   

So how does the company compete so successfully, capturing 11% of the world’s internet traffic1?  It’s because the company operates with the mindset that acquiring, engaging and retaining customers lies with the customer experience. Companies across industries – not just those that compete for customer attention – can learn a few key lessons from the Netflix customer-obsession strategy. 

Source: https://customerthink.com/customer-experience-at-netflix-6-lessons-we-can-all-learn-from/

1) Take ownership and be transparent  

In the video streaming business, technical glitches are inevitable. If there is a service disruption or streaming issue, Netflix will not only put out a statement, but also personally email all customers who may have been affected. 

For example, when there was an Xbox Live streaming outage a few years ago, the company proactively reached out to customers, apologizing for the inconvenience and offering a 2% credit to their account2. They didn’t wait for frustrated customers to reach out and complain. The company got out in front of the issue. 

Customer Ian Hall remembers another example: “Last night I was passively watching (or more listening than anything) to Eco-Trip with my daughter while we fixed dinner.  All of a sudden the sound gets all garbled.  I figure the encoding is off and think nothing of it until this morning I receive the following email. Now THAT is customer service. Netflix knew I might be upset (or at least have noticed) the interruption and so, proactively, they allowed me to request a credit for a small amount of my bill.  Now while 3% of my bill isn’t really going to add up, it makes me FEEL 100x better.  And here I am gurgling over my feelings and the attention Netflix pays to their customers.”

2) Empower agents to be individuals and focus on full resolution 

The company’s business model relies on a flat subscription rate so agents are not under pressure to upsell a customer when they are speaking to them. Perhaps because of this lack of pressure to drive revenue, agents are focused on solving the specific issue a customer is having. Netflix agents are encouraged to solve the problem without transferring to other agents. 

Agents are also empowered to be personal. A former employee recalled the company encouraging that agents have “at least one moment in a phone call where you would relate to a customer.” Humanizing support with jokes and personal stories. 

In one well-reported customer service story out of Netflix, Mike Mears, a customer service representative, engaged in an entire chat with a customer having a streaming issue in character in a Star Wars persona without breaking character. At the time of the chat transcript going viral, Brent Wickens, Netflix’s vice president of global customer support, said: “We really allow support agents to be themselves.3” 

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3) Be proactive and anticipate the next touch

We explored earlier how Netflix is proactive when there is a widespread technical issue that could provide a hiccup in someone’s streaming experience. The company, though, deploys proactive support across the customer journey. Whether it’s sending personalized emails with ideas of what to watch tonight (meticulously curated, of course), but also as soon as a person signs up for a free trial. 

As soon as a customer signs up, they are personally welcomed and provided key information and pointed in the direction of when, where and how to get in touch if they ever encounter a problem. This way, customers can reply immediately if there are any pressing questions or easily refer to the email if a question ever arises.  And they are doing something right: Netflix registers an astounding 93% conversion rate on free trials4

4) Provide support at any time 

People consume content all the time and issues arise on weekends, holidays and after hours. In order to provide superior support, Netflix not only offers self-help solutions to many problems through a robust help center, but also provides English live support 24/7 through live chat or via phone5.   

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One customer recounts a problem she encountered when she was a new subscriber. “When joining up we had a problem. It didn’t recognize our password on the first attempt. After numerous attempts failed, we rang up the helpline. Considering it was a Sunday night, the phone was answered swiftly and politely. They soon fixed the problem and apologized.”

Had Netflix waited until Monday morning to help this customer, during “regular” business hours, the company could have lost this customer forever. Because the company provided in-the-moment support, it not only provided an immediate resolution, but also built brand goodwill. 

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5) Ask for feedback, directly from customers 

Netflix is notorious for taking a data-based approach to their customer experience, which they dub “consumer science.” The company tests hypotheses, obsessively analyzes what a person watches and what they watch next in order to create the most personalized digital experiences.  

Part of the company’s obsession with data is collecting feedback directly from customers. They send out surveys designed specifically to understand how customers think. Companies trying to be as “customer obsessed” as Netflix should also make data-based decisions. This includes not only rigorous A/B testing, and behavioral and segmentation analysis, but also asking customers their satisfaction following interactions with the company or product, and also monitoring engagement following an interaction with customer support. 

Netflix is a leader not only in the streaming industry, but also globally recognized for its customer experience. The company has remained the biggest streaming company in a fast-changing and highly competitive industry based on its ability to personalize every customer interaction, anticipate the next issue and harness data to continuously improve. Companies across industries can implement Netflix customer obsession strategies within their own organizations to compete on customer happiness. 

Want to learn more about how streaming companies can compete on customer experience? Download our ebook today

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  1. https://www.sandvine.com/phenomena
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2009/08/31/netflix-had-me-at-were-sorry/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAJbcKK2jrPFgHq_vdq3SF7we2xO_NO2M3niUMS3vSxO1C8gtJj7e-P4AKhCRmSP62a068a35pMO85BXfp-xOMiJ4jd-fRyPDpsfWc5ob2_m3qKS_c9oUMYp5d9ydZKHE2u40i91vl5hbxotagB-8gzyyCb3yqRWhwiWPb5Oxouer 
  3. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/netflix-customer-service_n_4178662
  4. https://vwo.com/blog/conversion-rate-marketing/ 
  5. https://customerthink.com/customer-experience-at-netflix-6-lessons-we-can-all-learn-from/