How to Avoid a Netflix-Style Customer Revolt [Customer Communities]


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If you are a Netflix subscriber, you have surely been notified of the up-to-60% price hike that the company announced last month which has outrages a large portion of their customers. This customer backlash has taken many forms. At best for Netflix, it leaves a bad taste in customers’ mouths and damages their brand (which was one of the best). At worst, a blog-crippling amount of negative comments from customer, online anti-Netflix petitions, and the ongoing #DearNetflix Twitter-storm will bring about a mass exodus of customers and make it more difficult for Netflix to acquire new customers.

How Customer Communities Help to Avoid a Netflix-Style Customer Revolt

Now that Netflix’s top-shelf brand looks like it headed toward being known as the most high profile case study in college textbooks for how to lose customers, there are opportunities for business leaders to learn about customer relationship management in a social world from Netflix’s journey.

I want to begin by saying that I understand that Netflix had to make these changes to in order to make the company more stable after years of loss-leading pricing levels which hooked hundreds of millions of subscribers on the value. Many companies actually have to make these types of adjustments.

To help your company retain customers in the face of inevitable changes, here are 5 ways that both B2C and B2B companies can use their online customer community to protect and prepare themselves in order to avoid a customer uprising like the one that Netflix is experiencing.

#1) Reach Out to Top Influencers

Start by identifying the members of your customer community that have the most influence and online clout. Though you can usually use the tools built into your online community platform to do this, there are also additional fee-based and free services you can use as well. Next, ask for their feedback by bringing those customers into an exclusive discussion group in your online community. You can also engage this customer group by holding private web meetings to get their feedback on the problems that your products are solving for them and potential future directions for your company. Their input will help you anticipate their reaction to your changes as well as quell a damaging online uprising starting by your most influential customer, since they were part of the planning process.

#2) Launch a Customer Test Group

Invite a cross-section of your customer base into an online group to advise and provide feedback to your company. This can be a short-term focus group or a long-term advisory board. Facilitate discussions with this group through your online forums/listservs to get valuable information on how your market may react to certain changes. Knowing which issues are raised and which customer segments raised them will help your company plan a more effective communication strategy.

#3) Survey Customers

Use the data you collected in the group discussions to formulate short surveys. Use the survey tools built into your online community to send targeted surveys to specific customer segments. This helps you understand what is important to your customer base. You may find that rather than needing to increase your prices, there are expenses you can cut in other area of your product or service that your customers wouldn’t mind discontinuing.

#4) Provide a Private Place for Complaints

By making your private online customer community a central piece of your customer communication strategy, you can keep a large share of the customer complaints cause by your announcement out of the public eye while you resolve the issues with individual customers or segments. Customers feel as though their voice is being heard, while prospects, the media, or passersby are not influenced by negative customer remarks on your website.

#5) Conduct Pricing Exercises

Once you have all of the data from your online focus group and surveys, you can develop several different hypothetical offerings that are both profitable for your business and satisfying to your customers. Next, present these packages to your online customer advisory group and ask them to rank or rate the different feature/price combinations. This exercise will help you determine how your market values different features that make up your product or service.

In the product strategy world, this is known as a conjoint analysis. Effectively collecting pricing data from your market can be a little complicated and takes some expertise. Though you have the tools inside your online community to do the analysis, I’d recommend reaching out to a company, like Pragmatic Marketing, for assistance with planning the exercise. In the end, it will help you identify the right communication plan and package/price combination for your market by giving your insight into the psychological tradeoffs that your prospects and customers will make when evaluating several elements of your product or services offering together.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Paul
Joshua Paul is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Socious, a provider of enterprise customer community software that helps large and mid-sized companies bring together customers, employees, and partners to increase customer retention, sales, and customer satisfaction. With over 13 years of experience running product management and marketing for SaaS companies, Joshua Paul is a popular blogger and speaker on customer management, inbound marketing, and social technology. He blogs at


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