When I came back into the country five years ago, I was pretty sick of renting movies at Ballbuster (and a few other places) because they were usually staffed by teeny-boppers who were more interested in playing Playstation games behind the counter than actually helping anyone. I figured if I could “cut out the middle man” and actually get the movies I wanted, it’d make things a lot more simple.
I took the plunge, signed up with Netflix.com, and couldn’t be happier.
While living in DC, it was easy. I could drop my returns in a government maildrop, and the very next day, I’d have a fresh DVD. After moving back to Knoxville — my hometown — things got a little worse.
Certain Post Offices in Knoxville just suck. They lose things, don’t deliver things for weeks, hold onto things, send them back “Addressee Unknown,” and a multitude of other, more destructive, handling errors that make me wonder if they’re not getting their staff from a soup line somewhere… and God knows there are plenty in this burg…
I’ve had one particular movie out for quite a while. I finally watched it a few weeks ago, and dropped it in the mail with three others around July 22nd. Two arrived back at Netflix on the 25th. One arrived back 26th. One still hasn’t arrived… Meanwhile, three more DVD’s were shipped out to me on the 25th and 26th, but I still haven’t gotten the bloody things.
Imagine my surprise earlier today when received e-mail notification that the three they’d shipped to me had been received back at Netflix…
I called Netflix Customer Service — for the first time in ages — and spoke with a rep named Mary Ann. She went through the usual steps, verified my address, and found that the DVD’s had actually looped from the Post Office.
“Typical,” I told her. “This post office blows… If you look back in my history, you’ll notice every shipping problem I’ve ever reported was from this specific place…”
“You know what, you’ve been a good customer for a really long time,” she said. “Nearly five years. Wow!”
We talked a bit more about the problems, and found that the new Netflix policy allows them to go after a specific Post Office on behalf of a customer when there are more than three incidents within a ninety-day period. Good news!
“While we’re waiting for problems, and I sincerely hope you don’t have any, I’m gonna knock 25% of your charges for the next few months, and give you a couple of vouchers for extra DVD’s,” she said happily.
“Are you serious?” I asked. It clearly wasn’t the fault of Netflix.
“Well, I wouldn’t do this for a customer that’d only been with us for three months, but like I said, you’ve been a good customer for five years, and you deserve a little extra something,” she explained.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “I really appreciate that! Thanks!”
“You’re very welcome!”
My complaint wasn’t with Netflix, and I had questions. She understood my questions, answered them, gave me a number of things I could do to assist in rectifying the situation and then went out of her way to give me a few courtesies for being a long-time, loyal customer.
Now, seriously, how often does that happen when you call up with inquiry?
And how could I not refer other people to them given that sort of experience?
Really, customer service has sucked almost everywhere for a while now, due in no small part to the cost savings of setting up middle-of-nowhere call centers with completely untrained staff who don’t know the product or technology and simply aren’t used to dealing with people. And foreign outsourcing only makes that sort of thing even worse…
Fortunately, Netflix has US-based call centers filled with polite, friendly and knowledgable staff who are truly interested when there’s a problem. That’s almost unheard of these days. (Well, unless you’re dealing with one of my companies — heads will roll over poor Customer Service)
As a representative of her company, what Mary Ann portrayed today was a business with a proper, correct and reputable mindset. It’s no wonder they’re the biggest and brightest, even though there are several more inexpensive alternatives.
95% of the DotCom start-ups out there (and cellphone carriers, service companies, fast food, etc. etc. etc.) believe in attracting “New Business” all the time. They utilize Blitzkreig customer service and Viral marketing which ensures that they sell “one” of everything they offer to every person in the world, and move on to the next customer.
High customer turnover isn’t good for anyone; the methodology is entirely incorrect in any business, and especially bad for a Service company where solid customer relationships are crucial for maintaining long-term, residual capital. Regular, established customers are the ones who continue to come back, refer new business, and stick with you through the lean times. They’re your best marketers, and they deserve to be treated with a little dignity.
Netflix, very obviously, gets that. It’s refreshing to see that they instill those values in the Customer Service reps, as well.