The Netflix Story: How Good Management Leads to Social Media Success

The Netflix Story: How Good Management Leads to Social Media Success



We talk a lot about how the culture has changed, and it’s true.

The starkest example of this is the Nielsen study from last year, which showed that the most influential medium by far is recommendations by friends, followed by the word of strangers online. Any kind of paid media trails far behind, so getting real people to share your stuff makes a huge difference.

Last month, a Netflix representative committed brilliant customer service, and created a ton of value for his company.

The transcript is here, and I really encourage you to read it.

As of this morning, over 69,000 people have liked the story on Facebook. Assuming each one of those likes has 150 friends (and no double-counting), that’s 10,350,000 impressions on Facebook alone–let alone the people who saw it on Reddit (where it was originally posted), Huffington Post, Twitter, and anyplace else.

All of those people got the impression that Netflix is fun, responsive, and delights their customers. Hope that guy got a promotion.

Interestingly enough, 5 years ago, this would have been impossible because (a) customer service wasn’t done in chat windows, and (b), there was no mechanism for sharing exchanges for this. But let’s look at what went right:

  1. Culture matters. Netflix has the corporate culture that allows a customer service rep to have fun. Companies like Netflix, Southwest Airlines, and Nordstrom let their employees make decisions immediately to solve problems. There’s no need to escalate, no instinct to CYA. It take a confident company and a strong culture to do this, but when it happens, it’s magical.
  2. The channel matters. Netflix has a customer service channel that offers pure accountability. When most of us call customer service, the company may be recording the call, but we aren’t. That means that even if we’re delighted, there’s no real way to show exactly how they solved the problem. With Netflix, if the company screws up, you have a shareable transcript (a great motivator to provide good service). And if the company delights you, you have a shareable transcript to post wherever you like. You should think hard about how to generate and leverage transcripts of your customer service experience.
  3. Metrics matter. A company that was tracking only the total number of calls resolved would not allow this kind of spontaneity. The new ways to manage customer service require new metrics. An old school canned response would have led to a bloodless transaction that pleased or displeased no one, and certainly wouldn’t have spread. As Seth Godin says, something is remarkable only if someone would actually make a remark about it.
  4. Fans matter. Netflix had very little to do with pushing this story. It had fans who already loved the company, and were eager to see this story told. Sometimes, good social media management means getting your fans excited enough to share things on their own.

Everything we saw here with Netflix can be traced back to a management decision. The culture, channel, metrics, and fans wouldn’t be as well-established as they are if it weren’t for great management, which is unsurprisingly an element of great social media management.

Social media amplifies the voice of the customer. Every organization should be thankful for social media, because unless you’re attuned to the voice of the customer, you will not last long.

That’s why we talk so much about monitoring—it’s effectively free business intelligence. And as the customer’s voice permeates the organization, there’s a chance for not only a new way to do social media management, but a new way to do management which is enabled by social media.

This isn’t about putting social media ahead of profits, this is about using social media to let the voice of the customer permeate your organization.

Social media management is about managing your presence on social media channels. At the same time, social media creates a new opportunity for management—letting the true voice of the customer in, and the true voice of the organization out to the market.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Adrian Blake

Adrian began his career in the television industry, leading the international growth of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. Adrian has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Harvard.

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