Suggestions for Netflix profile improvements

As you may have heard, Netflix is beginning to crack down on password sharing. You may have already received the email inviting you to pay an extra eight dollars per month for additional households on your account. Even though Netflix tacitly (or even actively in some cases) encouraged password sharing for many years, I don’t hold this against them. On the other hand, they could definitely make life a lot easier by making profiles shareable.

Sharing profiles

The prime (heh) example comes from my house. I share my account with my ex wife because we have joint custody of the kids. This allows them to keep track of where they are in a show no matter which house they happen to be watching at. If I could share the profile, then I’d have no reason to share the account.

But I thought of another idea as I tried to describe this to the customer support representative. Profile sharing would make it much easier to travel or visit a friend’s house. If you could temporarily share your profile with another account, then it’s easy to use your profile at someone else’s place. This is less of a hassle, in theory, than logging out the owner, logging yourself in, and hoping you remember to log yourself out when you’re done.

Combining accounts

Another frustration is that you can’t move a profile to an existing account. When Netfix says “People move. Families grow. Relationships end. But throughout these life changes, your Netflix experience should stay the same.” what they mean is “you can always move a profile to a new account, you can never combine accounts.” Did you move in with someone who already had an account and you want to combine them? Too bad! One or both of you need to lose your profile.

I get why they have this ratchet. More accounts means more money. Combining accounts means they get less money. But also it’s kind of shitty. When Netflix was the only(-ish) game in town, it didn’t really matter. But now there are many streaming choices and people are starting to think “hey, maybe I don’t need to subscribe to all of them!” Content choices matter the most, of course, but customer experience matters, too.

The lesson

If you want to please your customers and your product has personalization, you have to consider all of the ways that the personalization might need to be portable. Making it easy to create a new account is important, and can help you get more money. But making it easy to manage profiles in a way that fits how people’s lives actually work is an investment in long-term customer satisfaction.