As you can probably already guess, I’m not that “in the know” when it comes to subscription services such as LoveFilm and Netflix. I had heard of Netflix a lot but never realised that it wasn’t available in the UK until I subscribed and started to read more about it. So I’m new to this type of service, I’m not influenced by the massive reviews and damning forum posts and trolling that seems to dominate the web these days.
Let me share my experience and views of the service I’ve got so far.
Having jumped into Netflix almost blind, I was really happy with how fast I got up and running but it wasn’t with out criticism.
The very first thing that struck me when signing up, was that Netflix smacks you in the face with a book, that is, Facebook! I am not a Facebook user, and I doubt I ever will be and I’m sure I’m not the only (potential) Netflix customer to refuse conforming to the Facebook following.
I had quickly selected the option to sign-up without linking Facebook to my account, and almost immediately I was up and running. In less than 10 minutes I was able to view Netflix streaming on my Laptop (Windows VM), Wii, and my Xbox 360. I couldn’t be happier with my new toy and the speed that I can get started with so many options of accessing to their service.
The quality of the streams are great, the HD streaming with 5.1 Surround Sound has never paused, stuttered or broken up once and on the odd occasion where I’ve been pausing the movie or accidentally ended up on the front menu screen, it will automatically resume playing where I left off upon resuming the stream.
The selection on Netflix isn’t very current, but I’m confident this is caused by them being recent entrants to the country. Unlike some of their world-wide service, Netflix in the UK have been smart to drop the DVD renting service and to stick with streaming only. This allows Netflix to focus on agreeing deals with publishers for a single service, rather than the hassle LoveFilm will struggle with of having to agree deals for DVD delivery of media, as well as streaming.
Can you imagine the hate-wars that will arise in the LoveFilm community when DVD releases are ahead of streaming, forcing users that want to watch LoveFilm’s latest acquisitions via a postal service rather than their fast broadband connection. What is the point of having super fast internet connection if you still use “snail mail” for your media services?
Netflix currently doesn’t support Linux users, but I have heard whispers that this is due to change in 2012 as Netflix look to support a wider on-line community. This is indeed a wise move as we see the number of Linux desktop users increase. This is important market to provide for as the Linux community tend to form very stubborn loyalty towards service providers that support their daily mistress.
Netflix UK (like the US) has it’s own blog on their site. Not very active, but there is potential that Netflix could use this as a great tool for dropping hints on new releases to come, both media content and Netflix features. The blog offers content to a much wider community than Facebook ever can, Their Twitter is also found here. The question is whether Netflix has the right people on the board to influence the usage of such tools correctly, Facebook isn’t for everyone, Twitter is often a mess, meaning their own blog (even though it uses Google Blogger) offers them the chance to hit the widest community, and support RSS into fan’s websites.
Neil Hunt, the Chief Product Officer has a lot of work on his hands to keep ahead of LoveFilm, and to satisfy their customers with recent content. If Netflix can bring in more recent TV series hits from UK TV such as Skins, IT Crowd, Sherlock, BBC Documentaries, and the big success stories such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Boston Legal and Grey’s Anatomy would all be big successes for pulling in loyal customers.
It would be an important improvement to allow the users to customise their user interface more tightly as well. Many of their customers will be young single adults, having “Just for kids” is just a burden to the user experience. Allowing users to add to Favourites, producing on-line catalogues where users can show off what they’ve watched like GoodReads, where users can list their titles and show them off on blogs, facebook etc if they so choose, not forcing them one way or another.
At the time of writing this, Netflix have many jobs available in the US, which implies they are growing successfully and have plans to put into action that requires greater workforce. Although there is no option for users to currently feedback to Netflix with suggestions, polls, or even complain using an on-line option (users are forced to phone up), hopefully the team are listening to reviews and community chatter to help develop a service that the customers want, not what the shareholders demand.
I’m very happy to Netflix as a new user, but it’s the little things that build up inside a humans that cultivate with time. If Netflix keep insisting on pushing Facebook in the faces of people who don’t like it, and insist on having “Just for Kids” in my menu and choices when I have no need for these, lack Linux support, offer no on-line option for feedback or customer service despite being on-line service, then the feeling of disregard will build up inside the customer. Many companies are showing today that just providing new features and charging for them is no the way to grow on the internet. The next 12 months will show if Netflix cares too much about quick profit rather than on going customer loyalty. Fixing current issues is often a bigger winner than just throwing new features at the service, but a combination of both is guaranteed success.
Good luck to Netflix, I’m enjoying watching the media library grow each week, just hope the user interface and communication improves. If I was to score this out of 10, it would have to be 6/10. I don’t believe I’ll currently get better anywhere else, but that doesn’t mean Netflix should settle for their current state. Be transparent to your customers, drop hints on exciting new things to come, and support feedback, I’m sure you’ll be an even bigger success than first anticipation.