Hastings and Qwikster: When Sorry Isn't Enough

Technology, media, and the way we consume it all changes at such a rapid pace that companies once on-top-of-the-world are in the trash heap faster than they can figure out what they did right to ascend to the top.

That’s why I think it’s particularly funny that not two weeks ago a fellow NDF blogger posted about Netflix, because I’m about to do it again.

Now I’m a communications-minded individual and usually rational (unless it pertains to the Red Sox or Packers). I think about problems and try to take a minute to digest the information that is coming at me, compose my thoughts, then convey them…

Netflix has taken a staunch opposition to this theory.

Reed Hastings, the Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix, decided that because of the ever changing technology in his own business it was time to raise the Netflix prices.

I had no issue with the price increase, I really didn’t. It was the blatant failure to act like a responsible company that communicates with its consumers that has me upset.

How can the CEO of a company that so desperately needs to change it’s customer service image hide himself so thoroughly. And here’s another hint to a technology company planning on splitting half of their services to another company: Make sure you have rights to the social media accounts.

The embarrassment that Netflix and Hastings has set up for themselves is beyond anything I can process. Especially because the Quikster twitter account is run by an illiterate pot-head.

While this Qwikster account is funny, Hastings’ public relations and marketing team completely dropped the ball.

Of course it’s always easy to spot the flaws in a case study, it’s much more difficult to come up with a solution (something everyone should be focused on).

Many people claim the solution is simple: Put the prices back to where they were and continue operating business as it was.

This solution to me didn’t seem so simple.

Hastings has completely destroyed his customer’s faith in not only himself, but the company. Many companies erode that trust away over time, but Hastings personally took a pick ax to his company image, so to me, just “going back to the way things were” isn’t a real option anymore.

He has to show that he has SOME business acumen, something he’s never really shown after Netflix’s launch. Show the customers that you’re not blind. Instead of writing an e-mail that says something to the effect of “I’m sorry I want you back… But I’m not changing” isn’t a good start.



Try something crazy like keeping it within one company, then explain why the growing costs needed to happen. And instead of trying to split it into two separate companies so that people will have to keep both accounts separate, DON’T split it into two separate companies so that people will not have to keep both accounts separate…

The amount and types of public relations gaffes are unforgivable for a technology company, and they’ve opened to door back up to a number of other streaming video competitors. It’s time to start looking at what the competition has to offer.

2 comments about "Hastings and Qwikster: When Sorry Isn't Enough".
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  1. katherine, September 24, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.

    Netflix really messed up in their communication. With Hasting's apology on The Netflix Blog, it seems now like they are only attempting to clean up their mess. However, it does not really matter how many times they say "sorry," they will lose some angry customers. "Going back to the way things were" does not seem like an option for any business right now considering the economy.

    Hastings did not mention anything about the Qwikster twitter account, which I think is pretty important to address. Netflix mistakenly assumed the same name of an already made account.

    Personally, I don't really care about the price change either, but I'm using my dad's account to access the streaming media. My dad could possibly cancel the subscription and that'll be the end of free Mad Men episodes for me—but not the end of the world.

  2. joseph, September 25, 2011 at 6:45 p.m.

    I am rather surprised at the media circus surrounding Netflix over this right now. I love Netflix and it won't be price that drives the majority away or a lower price that brings people to Netflix. It has to do with the content and programming available for instant streaming. I ditched cable last year and went to just an internet connection and a Roku box. I watch Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Roku Newscaster, and a couple other little channels for specific shows. I hop online and use FireFox to direct me to the websites that aren't streaming on Roku but still online for shows like Burn Notice, Leverage, The Good Wife and more. I went from spending $129 per month to now spending $29 for cable internet service, $9 for Netflix, and $8 for Hulu for a total of $46 per month... best of all. I can watch all of my shows when I want without even needing a DVR. What will make me upset with Netflix won't be the price but if they end the contract with Starz that gets them the really good licensing of great shows.

    Netflix is the only service like it available to most of us. If they lose some people, oh well. They will be back because they will realize they cannot replace the service with anything else at the moment.

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