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A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article entitled Fight Club! Netflix, LOVEFiLM and NOW TV: a UX comparison. For this I had to sign up to their respective VoD services. You know, for the greater good of journalism.

Now the time has come to quit these VoD services because it seems there really is such thing as too much choice... plus I'm not made of money... and there's only so many hours in a day. I do have a job you know!

Based on recent research that suggests 72% of customers expect complaints on Twitter to be answered in one hour, I'll be taking a look at each company's Twitter customer service channel compared to their site's own customer service, then finally I'll see how easy it is to quit and how easily they let me go.

NOW TV

NOW TV has a clean and clear interface, and finding help is straightforward enough.

There's loads of help topics here, with detailed FAQs for each one. There's a customer service form that takes you through to an internal email system, and there are links to ask the NOW TV community.

I also like the help videos embedded in the bottom right corner of the page, with a link to more videos on Youtube.

Perhaps even more impressively, in the left hand menu there is a 'Get help on Twitter' link, which is great to see on a customer service page.

NOW TV's Twitter account specifically states that its here to "Help", so it's an encouraging forum.

The working hours are stated as 10am-10pm. Does this transparency stop questions piling up out of hours? It's good that NOW TV is clear on this, but perhaps a large brand should be operating 24 hours a day. Or is that just unrealistic?

NOW TV's response time is actually very good on Twitter, often replying within the hour and offering clear information. 

If the query is more difficult, the customer is given a link to its livechat.

Twitter is definitely an effective channel for contacting a brand and provides much speedier gratification, if the brand is operating the account efficiently.

How easy is it to quit? Very. The option is highlighted with a black background directly on the help page.

 

You're then taken through to a page that asks if you're sure you want to cancel.

This is fairly effective, showcasing the films that are coming up in the next coming weeks. It's a good mixture of genres appealing to many demographics. However if the fifth entry in the Die Hard series doesn't float your boat…

There's a brief survey to fill in. "Don't worry it won't take long" claims Sky. That's it. End of the relationship. Simple enough. Time to move on and break some more hearts…

Netflix

The Netflix customer service page is easy to find and straightforward to navigate.

It also offers a handy livechat function. Paul appeared within one minute to ask if he can help.

Despite the plethora of FAQs, livechat and phone lines that promise a less than one minute wait, there's no link to Twitter.

Netflix's Twitter account is largely a broadcasting PR machine, however there is a link to a separate help account within the bio.

Netflix is reasonably good at responding. 

The channel operates between 6am-9pm, which is a few hours longer than NOW TV, however surely these hours would be better later rather than earlier? Can't say I regularly watch Breaking Bad before 9am.

How easy is it to quit? Extremely. It's even easier than NOW TV. There's a clear 'cancel membership' button at the top of your account page. Then after only one click…

That's it. It's over. Not even an "are you sure?" or a "but we've got Die Hard!" Nothing. It's like it doesn't even need my custom. I leave despondently on to the final one...

LOVEFiLM

LOVEFiLM operates a fairly complex customer service page.

There's little logic behind the order of this, which is frankly difficult to look at for too long with its stark text and dated layout.

LOVEFiLM doesn't operate a separate customer service Twitter account. This is just its standard promotional account.

However LOVEFiLM does answer customer queries on it.

LOVEFiLM responds helpfully and in a timely manner. It's difficult to say if it operates between certain working hours, as they're not stated, however each question is answered quickly and with further positive feedback from the customer.

In the future LOVEFiLM could certainly do with operating a separate customer service Twitter feed and linking to it on its website. This would certainly remove some burden from the main Twitter feed. Does LOVEFiLM really want to be mixing its promotional messages with answering customer's broadband issues?

How easy is it to quit? LOVEFiLM carries with it a major preconception here.

I have a friend who tried to quit LOVEFiLM via telephone yesterday. LOVEFiLM asked "Why are you quitting?" She replied "I'm too busy and don't have time to watch films", LOVEFiLM followed with "Why are you busy and and what are you doing that's taking up all of your time?" There's a certain amount of overstepping the mark here.

The option for cancelling your account is fairly well hidden on the site.

I finally found it as the third option in a separate account page, which then leads to this page…

This is even harder to view than the customer help page, and here's the real kicker… You have to phone them to cancel. There's no online function.

So I take a deep breath and give LOVEFiLM a ring...

The customer service representative picked up quickly. I told him I wanted to quit. He asked for a lot of security based information. He then proceeded to offer me all kinds of special incentives to keep me. Long story short, I got three months free LOVEFiLM.

I put the phone down feeling a little sheepish and realising I will be having the exact same conversation again in February.

In conclusion…

LOVEFiLM knows exactly what it's doing in terms of hiding the cancel membership option. It's also playing a devilish card in making the customer ring to cancel membership. It's much more difficult to do this in front of a human being than it is to click a button online. Also that human being can tailor incentives to suit the customer in order to make them stay.

This however can cause a great deal of negative feedback, especially when you consider the ease of NOW TV and Netflix cancellations. Netflix however could really stand to put up a bit more of a fight to keep its customers. Perhaps Netflix feels open to exploitation if it offers incentives to those who quit. LOVEFiLM successfully worked its magic on me, but there's nothing stopping me from trying the same tactic again.

All three operate reliable customer service pages, and it's great to see them adopt Twitter as a customer service channel. With customers expecting ever faster response times from brands, it won't be long before Twitter becomes the primary channel for feedback and service.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 8 November, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Mike Morrison

After cancelling Lovefilm a year or so ago there's been a handful of times when I've thought about resubscribing; but every time the memory of the hassle involved in cancelling puts me off. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

over 2 years ago

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Simon Wakefield

Personally I don't mind Lovefilms approach (although if they could do it via Text Chat rather than phone that would be even better as often you end up with an Indian call centre where the line isn't the clearest and the accent can sometimes be hard to understand).

If I'm cancelling a product I want the company to fight to keep me, obviously there should be a line and some of the horror stories that come out about Lovefilm seems to suggest they can go too far but most seem to not care one bit. Whats worse is most of those who don't fight to keep you will start sending offers weeks later (sometimes days later) when they could have tried that at the time and I might have stayed

over 2 years ago

Kris Littlewood

Kris Littlewood, Digital Marketing Assistant at English Lakes

I am not sure if it is still the case, but when I last had a lovefilm account I noticed that if you waited until after 11pm (when the call centre was closed) to searched how to cancel you would get the option to do it online. So guess what I did when the time came to cancel...

over 2 years ago

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Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook Airlines

Great Article!

I would definitely recommend reading 'Being Digital' by Nicolas Negroponte (if you can find a copy as it's out of print) as despite being published in 1995, he comes up with some great predictions about how humanity will become digitalised (from newspapers to entertainment and even sex) with the suggestion that the book is made of "unwieldy atoms" that will probably be replaced by a digital copy by the time anyone reads the book! Quite funny when you can now buy it on many ereaders!

He is convinced that HD television would be a waste of broadcasting power and never truly take off buy hey - you can't get everything right!

Also surely no article about what is written or said in terms of prophecies is the 'If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.' comment frequently attributed back to former CEO of Nintendo, Kristian Wilson...

over 2 years ago

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Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook Airlines

This is also worth a watch on the same line... not bad for 1984!

http://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_negroponte_in_1984_makes_5_predictions.html

over 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Kris - great tip, I wish I'd thought of that.

@Simon - I have yet to receive anything remotely begging from Netflx, but it's only been a few days so I'll keep you posted.

@Matt - I always thought that was Marcus Brigstock. Maybe he appropriated it.

It would be interesting to find out what incentives LOVEFiLM offer to customers who have been with them for a shorter period of time. I have a lengthy service under my belt.

over 2 years ago

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Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook Airlines

Sorry Chris - I posted that response on the wrong article. As I logged in I was taken back to a different article to the one I was reading - weird!

over 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

But the 'great article!' comment still stands right? Right??!!

over 2 years ago

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Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook Airlines

Haha - yeah it's definitely interesting. Especially given there is a question there about whether in Netflix / Now TV making it too easy to unsubscribe they have missed a trick and maybe there is a compromise somewhere along the line.

That said, if all LoveFilm have done is given you freebies away, I'd love to know if they make enough from those customers or if they're all (like you) simply planning on calling back in 3 months time...!

over 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

I'm sure most people, like me, will see February come and go and realise eight months later that they never cancelled their subscription.

over 2 years ago

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Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook Airlines

Maybe although I know a friend who worked in the retention team at Sky and they had to stop offering freebies and move to discounts as a result of people simply pushing for freebies and when no more were forthcoming, simply cancelling their membership.

Just makes it interesting to know what the behaviour is / whether each of the brands even actually knows...

over 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

It's interesting to know what the 'breaking point' is. Which customers are considered past their worth and better to jettison?

over 2 years ago

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Jamie Wonnacott

I'm planning to leave LoveFilm shortly due to having too much on and not watching the films in time - thanks for the heads-up on the troubles I'm likely to experience.

over 2 years ago

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