7 Things Streaming Platforms Can Do To Beat Netflix

Photo by: Ashley Marie Hernandez

Netflix has still a long way to go before it can stand toe-to-toe with Zappos’ customer service. What it is able to succeed in so far (and the reason I am open to renewing my subscription in the next coming months) is it is the only streaming service that hides titles.

Here are some actions you can get both your User Experience and User Interface teams to implement to make each month as memorable as possible:

#1 — A rating system that automatically hides titles once they reach a certain threshold.

Netflix has gone from the ‘out of 5 stars’ system to a ‘thumbs up’ (or down) one. The latter makes it simpler for a subscriber to just decide if a title was able to make it through the line or not. Amazon Prime is confusing because it automatically hides titles without giving users control over what to hide. This makes it difficult to find content in the first place (and I would bet that there are subscribers who only think that the platform has limited content because of the vast amounts it ‘hides’).

For example, I did not know that ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Elementary’ were available to view until accidentally noticing it during a search.

(To be better than Netflix: Enable subscribers to view all titles that haven’t been rated so they could be hidden or kept. It’s kind of difficult to keep using up mental energy when it’s not possible to ‘bulk action’, as the titles rated are mixed in with ones that are not)

#2 — Extending the free trial until subscribers have rated all content.

After I had moved to a new account on Netflix, I had to spend more than a month rating content. This was made easier once I decided on a system (allowing me to automatically know what to rate certain genres and categories). Even then, it still took more than a month. What’s more, I realised that it was difficult to keep up with new additions to the catalogue and would have to repeat the process every 4–8 months.

If you’re wanting to find out how long to set a free trial (or how long you can extend a subscription) it could be dependent on how often subscribers take more than two minutes before streaming a title (and staying with it for at least ten minutes). So if the system picks up a subscriber scrolling for 10 minutes then not watching something, or doing the same thing maybe a couple of days later, then you have an issue: risking losing that subscriber because she’ll realise that she just paid $20 to aimlessly scroll for 10 minutes a couple of days a month.

You can create an automated email to ‘gift’ a user two more months if they cancel with a message that goes something like: “Our goal is to provide you with content you’ll enjoy and the last thing we would like is for you to spend more time looking for the right ones than watching them. Please accept a complimentary two month subscription and take the time to rate each title you come across. If you are unable to spend at least 20 minutes on each title to decide if it is a fit for you, we suggest jumping to a certain section where at least two characters are speaking to each other. You would need at the most 5 minutes to help your ‘gut’ decide. This is the strategy mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’

#3 — Allowing users to rate content without subscribing

This would fix the amount of time needed to go through the entire library of the platform. The downside is that there are likely titles that would need a 5–10 minute rewatch for a user to come to a decision whether it is worth watching (especially if it’s a title that a user has seen but not realised she has).

#4 — Enabling a limited amount of time to stream a title for non-subscribers

Rather than providing ‘free titles’ to convince prospects to take a chance on your platform for a month, allowing a ten minute preview (at any point of the episode or film) then blocking that title from being viewed for at least 48 hours. This would solve the issue of having the kind of content readily available once your prospect has decide to renew or start a subscription.

Though Netflix doesn’t have this function, what it did do well was allow subscribers to rate titles and hide them. Then upon my return I was welcomed with ‘Otherhood’, which all but made my monthly subscription worth it.

#5 — Allowing users to download their data

Once you start asking subscribers to rate titles and do all sorts of customisation, then you should also be giving them that information just in case they are unable to renew before their data is wiped or if the there is a system-wide bug that corrupted their data.

#6 — Invest in quality customer service agents

Seriously, if you balance your content and investment on hiring the people who best represent your brand, then your subscribers would help you succeed within your niche. From encouraging your user base to request the kind of titles they would like to see (if you are unable to procure those titles, you can always invest in producing similar or better ones) to hearing about which parts of their UX/UI need the most attention. Again, need I use Zappos as an example?

The only reason I haven’t fully boycotted Netflix is that they do have a 40/60 (good/bad) record. So, even if I have a horrible experience (not feeling that I interacted with an actual human who cared about my experience) when asking for help, I somehow get at least a decent interaction to make up for that. Though I am not going to hesitate to walk away even if it would be painful (I might not get to watch a certain title until it makes it to the local networks, on DVD, or not at all) for my viewing preferences. I feel like standing up to not being treated respectfully is not a trade I’m willing to make just so I can get a good deal on film and TV.

#7 — Enabling unique codes to login with limited access

Even Amazon Prime doesn’t allow specific ways to login to your Prime account (with the goal of just watching content) without needing to type in your password or email. If you enable a one time code (or password) that allows you to access your content (but not your billing information or previous invoices) to be available through any device without you worrying about the security of said device (or tempting houseguests to try to find any information that could be used to steal your identity)

Not only would you be doing ‘much better’ than Netflix, you’ll likely be able to define your platform in a sector that is growing crowded. When asked which I prefer, my answer would usually be: as long as you only pick one a month and cancel all others. Though Disney+ has thankfully upped their security measures (Sucuri has now them on ‘green’ rather than ‘amber’)

PS: What other improvements would you like your preferred streaming service to have? (Have you stopped using any of them because of their sub-par customer service?)

Drop me a line here or comment below! :)

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