5 Customer Service Lessons from Netflix

Denver-based Netflix customer service representative Michael Mears, now best-known as “Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix,” won the hearts of customers everywhere last month when a chat transcript with Netflix customer “Lt. Norm” went viral. The two stayed in character for the duration of the chat, leading some to wonder just what type of culture Netflix has built that successfully encourages, say, its reps to perform duties in fictional character while still efficiently dealing with the customer’s issue?

The Huffington Post recently ran an article that details the Netflix approach to customer service. While reading the piece several key lessons became apparent, many of which are driven by the company’s commitment to its culture of “freedom and responsibility” (outlined in this deck from 2009).

Here are five key customer service lessons from the company’s approach to delighting customers, as detailed in the article:

  1. “Netflix help chats don’t feature a robotic, dizzying array of menu options, or a company agent using a script.” The company encourages people to act in character when dealing with customer, if they wish. In addition to not forcing agents to use scripts, Netflix does not impose time limits for interactions with customers, similar to Zappos, though for efficiency’s sake they have goals of answering support questions in under five minutes.
  2. “The company’s quirky, beloved approach to customer service may help give it an edge as it battles for viewers in an increasingly competitive field.” Netflix is going head-to-head with Amazon and Hulu Plus for subscribers — and interactions such as the one between Lt. Norm and Cpt. Mike can really stand out when a customer is considering whether to renew their monthly subscription or move to another provider.
  3. In some circumstances a customer that has a problem that has recovered delightfully can actually leave that interaction more satisfied than a customer who didn’t have a problem in the first place.” This is a great lesson for all businesses who currently view service operations as a cost center. Each time a customer picks up the phone, starts a live chat or emails your company — even when they’re angry — it gives you the opportunity to create a happy, loyal customer out of the interaction.
  4. “Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings would sometimes take customer calls — something Netflix says he still does to this day.” Similar to Mickey Drexler at J.CrewJeff Bezos at Amazon and Steve Jobs at Apple, Hastings has jumped into the trenches and answered customer service calls himself. If you want to run a company that delivers a consistently great customer experience, it’s important to understand what it’s like to be a customer of your own service.
  5. “The customer service mantra at the company […] consists of three elements: “solving the problem,” “have fun and be yourself,” and “keep it easy, keep it simple.” We hear this again and again, but service interactions should be as painless for the customer as possible. And, as Shep Hyken has written about previously, no need to make things complicated. Make it your goal to do what’s right by the customer, and focus on delivering solutions in a helpful, quick manner. You’re already on your way to delivering great experiences for your customers.

Motivate your customer service agents as Netflix do