The media and entertainment industry has been deeply roiled with the coronavirus outbreak. However, there has been barely any impact on pioneer of OTT (Over the top) media streaming, Netflix. As people around the world were confined to their homes because of the pandemic, Netflix experienced massive growth by gaining 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter of this year which exceeded their growth expectations by 2x!
It's the foundational principles of Netflix that have helped it become a top streaming subscription service. Since its inception, Netflix has portrayed itself as a company that is small enough to let employees wear multiple hats yet large enough to ensure employees take on only suitable work. It's the amazing and unusual employee culture of Netflix that contributes to its core philosophy of people over process. Here's what makes Netflix’ employee experience special:
- Encouraging employees with independent decision-making
- Sharing information openly and deliberately across teams
- Fostering a culture of honesty and truthfulness
- Hiring highly effective people only
- Avoiding rules and unnecessary policies
There’s a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince which Netflix adheres to in spirit:
Based on the approach of its first CEO, Marc Randolph, the following employee experience principles of Netflix have helped them successfully navigate challenges and excellent customer experience and employee experience, even during unprecedented times.
Freedom and Responsibility
Netflix believes in hiring great talent, giving them tough problems, and allowing them to solve those problems with full freedom. They prefer collaborating with colleagues and respecting their skills.
Coupled loosely but aligned tightly
An ideal leader should tell its employees about the destination, not the way of reaching there. Empower the team members to find their own distinct ways of reaching the goal. It not only brings innovation to their work but also gives them the freedom to efficiently solve problems and elevates employee experience.
Focus on the dream team
The idea of a great workplace is building a dream team with extraordinary colleagues having common goals and similar ambitions. While there are no “brilliant jerks" in a dream team, highly effective collaborators inspire each other to become more productive, creative, as well as successful.
When Netflix first launched, it did so as an online service which rented out movie DVDs to their customers. Over time they've evolved into one of, if not the biggest providers of OTT media content. To be able to make such a transition successfully, Netflix needed to make sure their customer and employee experience was, is and remains on point. Here's a few key tenets which have ensured that their Customer Experience prevents customer churn, especially in a market saturated with competitors.
Netflix focusses on personalizing the customer experience to keep its users happy and engaged. By effectively tracking their viewing history and collecting data across all touchpoints, Netflix uses an algorithm to recommend its customers shows/movies as per their past choices and browsing history. Customers can watch content on demand on any device, even offline.
Being a customer centric company, Netflix gives top priority to customer experience and prefers to share customer feedback enterprise wide so that there are no data silos. By gleaning actionable insights from customer feedback and bringing them to bear on script/content ideas, Netflix produces original shows that perform exceptionally well.
Data above all
Netflix collects as much data as it can before creatively using the data to arrive upon insights, be it through social media, online surveys, phone surveys or any other means. To their surprise, Netflix found that more local (culturally speaking) content garnered more universal appeal. Aspiring to create more moments of truth and enhance customer autonomy, Netflix strives to improve continuously by arriving at such insights. The focus is on creating and even inventing what customers need if it doesn’t exist. This is what has kept their customer experience and by extension, their customer satisfaction levels head and shoulders beyond the competition.
As per Randolph, the best way to check a good idea is to build it, test it, and sell it - and that's what has helped Netflix reach where it is today. Even during the global pandemic, Netflix was able to generate a net income of $709 million in the first quarter. Without offering any live sports, Netflix has gained a significant advantage over competitors like Disney. Walt Disney Co. is furloughing workers after closing its popular theme parks, which were a key part of its business. Meanwhile, Netflix is adding to its staff by hiring 2,000 more workers to handle customer service.
How did Netflix become an undisputed champion of entertainment amidst the pandemic?
With quarantine and streaming being the new norm, Netflix has created long-term profitability by effectively capturing the content obsessed audience. Also, their long-standing strategy of focusing on customer experience is paving way for higher lifetime value. Let’s dive deep into the reasons that contributed to its exponential growth:
With 193 million subscribers worldwide, the workflow of this internet-based business wasn't interrupted in any way due to the pandemic crisis. Having a global presence among the majority of domestic OTT providers, Netflix has around 73 million subscribers in the US alone. Even outside the US, it outperforms other OTT providers with 70-87% of subscription users in English-speaking countries and 55-64% of users in non-English speaking countries.
Leveraging a business model that derives revenue from streaming subscriptions, Netflix has been a convenient content provider during the pandemic. For those staying in quarantine or forced to self-isolate, taking up or extending their subscription proved to be a useful way to bide their time. Considering the current situation where more outdoorsy avenues of entertainment aren’t an option, Netflix’s subscription-based model has helped it excel even during the crisis. However, this pandemic has proved to be a proper test for Netflix’ Customer experience credentials as well- with the spotlight shining brighter than ever on this streaming platform.
Large library of content
While other OTT providers with a dearth of content are struggling to satisfy customer demand during the pandemic, Netflix owns a huge library of original content that gives its members thousands of options to choose from. As viewer satisfaction is of utmost priority, Netflix management ensures to keep the library updated with new & fresh content.
As the pandemic has imposed restrictions on the everyday routine and people have been asked to follow social distancing rules, customers are increasingly turning towards streaming services like Netflix. While customers are willing to pay for the online streaming service, it remains to be seen whether this surge in customer base is one that can be sustained once the world recovers from this crisis.