Due to a recent update to Google Chrome, it is no longer possible to stream video on sites that rely on the Microsoft Silverlight plugin using Chrome for Mac.

If you’re a user of video streaming sites like Netflix then you probably already know about this. Blinkbox have been affected by this change too, and I found out from this email I received not so long ago:

blinkbox silverlight email

Me being me, I had to dig deeper to see what was really going on and make a quick analysis. (Because, why not?)

Perfect targeting

Blinkbox did not email all of their customers, as that could’ve easily alarmed customers who aren’t affected by this change (e.g. customers who use Blinkbox on a Windows PC, or customers who don’t access Blinkbox via Google Chrome). They targeted their email to customers who have accessed their site with a Mac. To do so, they used Adobe Campaign, part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. As it’s integrated with Adobe Analytics, the folks at Blinkbox were able to see exactly who their Mac-using customers are (via Adobe Analytics) and then easily target them with an email (via Adobe Campaign).

(More on Adobe Campaign here: http://www.adobe.com/uk/solutions/campaign-management/neolane.html) 

Customer Services and Site Experience

Blinkbox have put a message up on their site advising people about the change.

blinkbox find out more

People will only see this message on a “watch page” (i.e. on the page they’d land to watch a movie), as long as they’re logged in using Chrome for Mac. When non-customers (or customers who aren’t logged in) land on these “watch pages”, they can only watch movie trailers, which Blinkbox have moved from Silverlight to an Adobe Flash file format (SWF). I assume this is not to alarm or turn away any non-customers.

The “find out more” link points to this URL: http://blinkbox.me/chromesupport. That is a new page in their Support Knowledgebase dedicated to this issue: it’s comprehensive and it answers the main questions they had anticipated in a nice and concise way.

As for a resolution, Blinkbox are “working on a HTML5 player solution that will work with Google Chrome for Mac… We’re almost there, and we hope to launch a HTML5 player in the first few months of next year. We’ll also work to add Chromecast support in the first half of next year.

Blinkbox’s customer service strategy for this issue starts right from their website, with:

  1. a brief and targeted message to alert affected users;
  2. a link to the help page answering the FAQs;
  3. a couple of ways to contact Blinkbox if the above two steps haven’t answered your question, via their webform OR chat.

blinkbox contact us

Instead of waiting for the customers to approach them, Blinkbox have anticipated the customer, and THAT is great customer service.

If Blinkbox have the right analytics set in place (which I hope they do), they can easily see how many customer queries they’ve saved thanks to their “learn more” link and the dedicated help page. Add to this a layer of cost savings and there you have your ROI for this particular page. Neat!

Responses on Social Media

This issue hasn’t sparked too many comments on social media. In fact, there have only been about 30 Tweets on the subject to date. Had Blinkbox not anticipated customers and sent the advisory email, or added a link on the “watch pages”, or even created a dedicated help page, they would’ve easily received way more than 30 Tweets.

The general sentiment is that customers don’t want to have to change their browsers to watch their movies…

…with some criticism on the technical details around this issue…

All in all, customers are glad that they ‘ve been alerted of the issue, while waiting impatiently for a resolution:

You can see all the latest mentions of this “issue” on Twitter through this link: bit.ly/BlinkboxAndSilverlight (switch from “TOP” to “ALL” when you get to the page, to view the Tweets in chronological order).

What I hope Blinkbox are doing

Now, I don’t work with Blinkbox so I don’t know what they’re doing about this internally. However, as a loyal (and frequent) Blinkbox customer, I’m quite happy with how they’re dealing with this matter. As an analyst, I do wonder what else they’re doing internally to contain and deal with this.

So, if anyone at Blinkbox is reading this (oh, hello!), here are 5 things I hope they’re doing to successfully deal with this situation:

  • Plan: have a “social media crisis” plan, with guidelines on how to handle the situation before, during and after a crisis erupts. Such plan isn’t only useful for when you’re having a crisis: it can definitely come in handy to avoid a crisis. Make sure that whoever is going to deal with and reply to the mentions online is fully informed of the issue, any updates, and what information to refer back. That aside, don’t forget internal communication – your staff need to know what’s going on too, don’t let them find out from a Tweet on your profile.
    • Interestingly, for this specific issue (Silverlight on Chrome for Mac), there was definitely a chance for planning. Google had alerted a few select sites of this change a few months prior to the change, as a forewarning. That was to make sure that companies relying on video (or, more specifically, Silverlight) were aware of this with ample time to prepare for the update.
  • Monitor: monitor what’s going on and what people are saying about the situation. Whose job is it to do so? Certainly not just for the social media analyst to pick up – this is everyone’s While you do need your analysts to report on what’s going on, everyone needs to see what’s going on. Here’s an idea: put monitors around (in your offices, on your desks etc.), open Tweetdeck and add a stream that shows real-time mentions of people talking about this issue AND your brand. Use Boolean queries to make sure you’re covering all mentions (e.g. one person might write “Blinkbox”, another might write “blink box”, but they’re both referring to the same company). For the Blinkbox saga, you can use this query: (blinkbox OR “blink box”) AND (chrome OR silverlight OR googlechrome). By doing so, everyone who sees the monitors will be aware of what’s going on. While you focus on monitoring and reporting, don’t forget about awareness too. Inexpensive idea but oh so effective!
  • Acknowledge: I’ve already seen Blinkbox doing so, and I think they’ve covered this pretty well. They’ve publicly acknowledged the issue, and they’ve given enough information to those specifically affected, thanks to fine targeting. I personally didn’t expect Blinkbox to come out and say that they’ve already fixed everything, but at least they’ve given a reasonable explanation as to what’s going on and what they’re doing about it.
  • Inform: keep people informed, update them as and when you have any new valuable (Not all information may be useful for public consumption.) Set up a help page with the frequently asked questions, which you can update based on the questions you’re geting on the issue – so it’s a proactive and reactive help page. Inform your customers, the public and your staff as well. Speaking of staff, advise them on what to do and say on social media, and when contacted by the public or the press. By taking all these steps, you’re keeping on top of the situation and you stop speculations and misinformation from spreading.
  • Respond: respond, and respond fast. If you have a plan in place, you won’t hesitate to respond, as you’ll already know what to say. Hesitation can easily create more frustration, misinformation and more damage to your brand – and no one needs that. The number of mentions and queries may increase any day, at any time, so be prepared for when that happens. You may not be able to reply to all comments – and that’s okay! However, show that you’re actively monitoring what’s going and responding to the issue to the best of your abilities.

I really, really hope Blinkbox are taking all of those 5 steps, although I’m sure they are from how they’ve been managing this issue so far.

In the meantime, I’ll go and have a look at what’s on Blinkbox for tonight.