Chances are you’ve already heard about “Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix” and how his chat with a customer raised the bar for representatives everywhere. If not, do yourself a favor and check out the chat transcript with Netflix customer “Lt. Norm” that went viral last month. 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. The company is committed to a culture of “freedom and responsibility” (outlined in this deck from 2009).
While reading the piece, five key lessons became apparent:
“Netflix help chats don’t feature a robotic, dizzying array of menu options, or a company agent using a script.” Other than asking for an answer to a one-question survey at the end of the chat, representatives are free to help customers in any way they see fit. If representatives wish to act in character when dealing with a customer, for example, the company encourages them to do so. 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.
“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 competing 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.
“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.” 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. This is a great lesson for all businesses who currently view service operations as a cost center.
“Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings would sometimes take customer calls — something Netflix says he still does to this day.” Hastings has jumped into the trenches and answered customer service calls himself, similar to Mickey Drexler at J.Crew, Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Steve Jobs at Apple. Successful leaders know that 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.
“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.
What are some unique ways your company delivers customer service? Tell us in the comments section.
Feature Photo: Shardayyy via Creative Commmons/Flickr.