Dear Netflix: Your job is not to train customers how to behave.

In 2005, Fast Company listed Netflix at the top of a list of “Consumer-Focused Brands.” We think if they had to do it over again, they would have chosen differently.

Over the pursuing years, Netflix has demonstrated time and time again actions that suggest an attitude of “Netflix knows best,” rather than “The customer is always right.”

Of course there is a fine line between leading a market and forcing a market to do as you wish. Steve Jobs famously said, “You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.” But, he’s also is quoted as saying, "You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around." 

However, Netfix repeatedly behaves in such a way that has us thinking they’re paying more attention to their financial bottom-line than examining—and delivering, products and services the way customers want to receive them.

The consumer marketplace has shifted over the last few years. Consumers want transparency, and brands that they can relate-to. They search for brands that fit their lifestyle, rather than change their lifestyle to match the popular trend.

It seems that Netflix hasn’t been watching marketplace trends as it should.

Here are some of the obstacles that Netflix has put in customer’s way: In 2006 Netflix was caught “throttling” their best customers—a practice that slowed down the delivery of DVD’s to the customers who were using their product most frequently. They offered “unlimited” DVD’s per month—as long as a customer didn’t use the service too much. Another example is Netflix enticement to get customers to use their streaming video service, by offering it as part of a consumer’s monthly service. Then in 2011 they forced all customers to choose mail delivery, or streaming delivery—or pay double for both. And then most recently, Netflix has announced that they would stop allowing customers to put their service on vacation hold—at least not without re-signing up when you returned—it seems customers were using that service too much too.

Brands are defined by consumer perception, and consumer perception of Netflix is tenable at best. As in October 2010, when they hired actors to portray real customers at a launch event in Canada, the press was all over them.

It is quite a company that penalizes its customers for using their service too much, or not in the way they’d like them to behave…and gets away with it.

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