How Netflix Cancelled My Account to Build a Closer Relationship

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Netflix just owned me by cancelling my account. You heard right. They cut me off the minute they had the chance to, and I immediately ran back to them as fast as I could. The nightmare scenario I contemplated was losing my kids’ progress through Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, which I nor my wife could not fathom. Yes, Netflix does from time to time serve as a very effective babysitter! See their very nicely crafted email below.


Now as a Content Marketer, why did I find this somewhat jarring approach interesting? For a few reasons.

First, as a provider of a subscription service with Marketing.AI, we love our customers and we do our best to keep them happy. If payment or renewal were an issue for a customer, I can’t imagine outright cancelling them without working to try to keep them first. Obviously Netflix knows the risk of losing me was a non-issue, either through some automated understanding of my viewing habits, time I’d been a customer, or just confidence (maybe?). Regardless, I can’t imagine my phone company taking the same approach with my wireless subscription or home internet service.

Second, my billing change was a mere technicality. I admit, I live in a credit card empowered world where virtually 100% of my recurring bills are setup with online billing, credit card payments, and email notices. I do everything I can to drive efficiency into my busy life, so when my credit card company decided to change the number on my credit card which is linked to numerous bills, I jumped in with zeal to update all those bill providers with my new credit card information. Not! Despite this small change, Netflix decided it was easier just to cut me off.

Finally, I think Netflix canceled my account to drive a core strategic initiative. Netflix wants to own the entire customer relationship. What do I mean? Let’s go back a few years to when Netflix was signing partnerships with anyone to help support their revolutionary on demand platform, and partnering with known and trusted companies like iTunes to be their payment processing partners. Paying through iTunes took away my “trusted status” objection, and I could just add Netflix billing to my iTunes account. Easy.

So what’s changed? Netflix is no longer an upstart, and is very much a competitor to iTunes now and more so in the future. Netflix clearly has a strategy to “take back” the customer relationship right to the billing level, ensuring that when they roll out new ways for their customers to consume content, that they can also easily capture the incremental value they want to with their customers on their own billing platform. Netflix has driven their strategy through to their content in a very direct, bold, and effective way.

Congrats Netflix! Yes, I enjoyed the service – and I’m definitely back.

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