Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keep Me (@DirecTV)

So, canceled DirecTV late last week. They tried, but not very hard, to keep us by offering to knock $30 off the bill.  I'm guessing it would be in exchange for another 24-month contract.  We declined and they let us go easily.  Within two days, this email:

This tells me several things:

(1) DirecTV can afford to charge you far less than they are. (DirecTV's just trying to get as much as they can as quickly as possible because they know they'll lose a lot of people quickly.)

(2) A product (Genie) which would have cost me a lot to purchase while still a customer, I can now get for free. (DirecTV doesn't care about its existing customers.)

(3) DirecTV doesn't use the information it knows about its customers.  (We never watched any sports in two years.)

(4) DirecTV is just playing a game. (Notice the fine-print underneath the price where it says football's not included at that price.  Also, I doubt anyone can get the $29 price - there will be taxes, fees for additional services, etc., etc., etc.)

So, yeah, if you like sports, DirecTV is probably a good choice for you.  If you want the latest CBS shows, probably also a great choice.  But if you just want to be entertained, Netflix has a really deep catalog and is a far better and cheaper choice.

Companies who have fans, those companies know retention.  But if your goal is only the next sale, or to lock someone into a contract, there's a problem with your product.  You haven't figured out how to differentiate or you haven't figured out the value proposition.

Or you're chasing after the wrong audience, allowing them to buy your product, be dissatisfied with it and then be disgruntled about it.

My experience with DirecTV was not good. There was a promotional discount period at the beginning which was complicated to actually enroll in, there was a bunch of add-ons that were designed to try to get more money out of me and were difficult to cancel, the promotional marketing was designed to always to try to extract more money from me.  And for the longest time, they couldn't even be read on an iPhone.  (The black line through the hero graphic as rendered above is my fault for shrinking the email, it rendered perfectly.)

Never did DirecTV do anything to affirm me as a customer or partner, I was just someone to shake down on a regular basis, and then come back around and see if I had more money in my pockets.

Maybe it's wrong of me to accuse DirecTV of not knowing its customer base.  Maybe it was I that made a mistake thinking I was their target audience.  Maybe that's why I've cut the cord and not going with DirecTV, DISH or Comcast, I'm not in the market for this type of monthly shakedown.

What would an ideal entertainment provider look like to me?

  • I retain control. I get to pick and choose what I want to watch, when I want to watch it.  (And where/what device I want to watch it.)
  • Regular new offerings, a sense of growth and change, opportunity to take advantage of new offerings without having to pay all over again.  (Whether that's patches or system upgrades, eligibility for new equipment, or just new content acquisition.)
  • A sense of partnership, ownership, or affinity with the company.
  • A sense that the company cares about me, or at least seeks to understand me through obvious relevance in their communication with me.
  • Affordable offerings.
  • Opportunities to upsell are relevant and only posed at appropriate and logical times.
  • Not a lot of what I don't want.
  • A company that's personal, has a consistent, relatable voice and an ethos that I'd want to consider following on Twitter or having show up in my newsfeed on Facebook.

In my mind, do those things and you'll spend far less on retention (keeping existing customers) and acquisition (trying to find new customers).  Fail those things and you're left with gimmicks, lies, tricks and trying to get as much as you can out of someone before they wise up and move on.  (The car company that works hard to sell you a car because they know once you've lived with their car 3-4 years you'll never consider buying another from them.)

Currently in the entertainment provider category, I'm finding that in Netflix and Roku (after 3 days, despite the Netflix profiles problem, my wife's ready to order a second Roku for upstairs).  Not so much Hulu.  Where's Hulu Plus Plus - we'd pay a little more to eliminate the commercials altogether.  We don't think we should have to, but we would.

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