By Dave Landry - March 5th, 2015
Netflix and Comcast seem to have different approaches to solving customer problems. In this article, learn what those approaches are - and which one is better.
No matter the size of your business, reputation management can be incredibly important. For evidence of this, one needs only to look at the disastrous reaction that one company had to their negative experience on Gordon Ramsay’s television show Kitchen Nightmares. Regardless of how big or small your company may be, you will need to consider how to approach problems that can have a negative effect on your reputation. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two examples of both good and bad reputation management and discuss how to learn from these notable public relations disasters in order to provide better customer support.
Netflix Splits Services
They may not (quite) be in the Fortune 500 yet, but Netflix are a well known entertainment brand. As their business grew, they had to make a few changes and try to evolve with the needs and desires of their customers. Unfortunately, the way they went about altering their services in 2011 (rolling out a DVD-only service, Qwikster) was not a hit with Netflix users, and they suffered a lot of backlash as a result. Thankfully, their response was appropriate, and the company has since recovered.
What Did They Do Right?
Well, CEO Reed Hastings came out and apologized for making the move and was eventually penalized by having half of his stock option awards cut for the year. Sometimes eating crow can be the best way to keep customers, but that’s not the only thing that Netflix did to help their cause: they also listened to the criticism from their users and heeded their advice, scaling back on their plans and making the process of change much more simple for everyone. In addition to listening to their customer base, Netflix also put their money where their mouths were and began building a name for themselves with award winning original content. As a result, they recently posted impressive numbers for 2014 and built on their reputation as a disruptive, agile alternative to the typical cable TV model.
Comcast Customer Support Troubles
If you’ve been paying any attention to Comcast in the past few years, you’re probably very well aware of the customer service issues they have been battling with (we certainly are). If it isn’t a customer upset over their bill and not getting the help they need, it’s a disgruntled employee changing a customer’s name to something less than flattering. Although they have issued apologies for these incidents, the recurrence of these problems indicates that they haven’t done much to solve the problem with their customer service.
What Did They Do Wrong?
Fundamentally, Comcast do not appear to have learnt lessons to the extent that their customer experience has meaningfully changed. While apologies have been made, and - one is hopeful - changes have also been made, the company still finds themselves in hot water relatively routinely. As such, this seems an example of a company papering over cracks, rather than finding solutions to deep-rooted problems. Whether these are problems with the people they are hiring or the way that they are trained, it seems apparent that the solutions thus far have not gone far enough. None of Comcast’s efforts have fixed the systemic problems that have lead customers to begin recording their own calls in order to hold the company accountable. However, they may have begun watching social media like hawks in order to answer potential issues before they go viral and become more problematic. This is one method of reputation management, but so far it has done very little to improve the reputation of Comcast.
Prove Your Worth
We can learn quite a bit from how these two businesses have handled their reputation management. In the case of one company, the approach is to solve problems as they arise; in the case of the other company, the approach is to solve problems before they arise. The message here should be pretty clear. Netflix could have chosen to simply apologize and continue forth with business as usual, but instead they elected to listen to their customers and cancel their plans to split the business in half. By heeding the advice of their users, they were able to bounce back from their mistake in just a few short years. In stark contrast, Comcast has been dealing with viral customer service issues for over a year now, and they are still finding themselves in hot water every few months – despite promises to fix their customer service problems. Instead of dealing with the problem, they have taken the approach of playing clean up after the mess is made. This approach has won them awards for “The Worst Company in America.” If you really want to manage your reputation, you need to deliver a strong customer experience, not simply make really good apologies. In some instances, that will require a more deep-rooted change.It’s important to not only fix the individual problems of your customers and show them that you actually do care, but address the issues that cause those problems in the first place. Actions speak louder than words, and making changes to the way you handle the reputation of your business could be the best way to ensure that your customers become loyal patrons.
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