Since 23 million people are members of Netflix, the chances are pretty good that the company’s Tuesday announcement of new DVD/streaming plans is affecting you. For me, it’s a life changer. No way my spouse will accept DVD and streaming together for $15.98 per month instead of $9.99 like it is now. In fact, I’m hesitant to bring the subject up at home (but that’s for another type of blog).
This move by Netflix has ignited a firestorm on its Facebook page, which at present has nearly 39,000 comments on the announcement—many of them negative. The actual decision to raise prices not withstanding, is there anything Netflix could have done to avoid this little PR glitch? Mike McDougall, PR consultant and former VP of communications at Bausch + Lomb, says there were two problems: First, the news appeared to be launched on the Web before it was announced directly to customers. “Informing your current customers first should always be a priority, or at least done concurrently with news dissemination,” says McDougall. Second, there was little explanation, or rationale, for the changes. “If the rates are skyrocketing on a percentage basis, an explanation must carry water,” he says.
It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks how many Netflix members cancel because of this. In the meantime, is there anything Netflix can do to stem the negative tide?
–Scott Van Camp