Peloton is having some major trouble this week, with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission issuing a warning for those with the Peloton Tread+, asking those who have children or pets to stop using it and suggesting Peloton begin a recall of the product entirely.
While this issue may or may not cause a long-term problem for Peloton, as the company is strongly fighting back on this, stating that “the Tread+ is safe for the home when used in accordance with warnings and safety instructions,” it is part of a larger issue and familiar pattern that I’ve noticed over the past year, which is that Peloton is terrible with community communication.
Today, I want to look a bit into some of the company’s communication issues, why these issues are bad for both Peloton and its growing community, and some ways that might be able to solve or at least significantly improve them.
Let’s start by looking at some of the biggest consumer issues with Peloton just this year in 2021.
Delivery and Repair Issues
The elephant in the room is the company’s delivery and repair issues. Despite its $100 million investment to speed up shipping times, and its marketing suggesting that this problem has been all but solved, Peloton continues to have major issues with delivery.
It’s not only that the shipping times are slow, but many times, these bikes are being delivered with broken or faulty parts, which then require an additional several weeks or months of waiting to get a repair.
Just this week, our own Connect The Watters writer, Bradley, finally received his Bike+ delivered after ordering it back in January. Unfortunately, it came with a broken part, and he was then told he needed to wait two more months to have someone come and replace it.
My friend Sheila, who ordered her bike in early March, still has never even received a shipping date after six weeks. And it’s not hard to find hundreds, if not thousands, of current issues like this. I understand that maybe this a small percentage having issues (although it seems like it might be larger than a small %), but Peloton continues to ignore this issue and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Peloton doesn’t reach out to try to get things moving sooner, and they don’t have a new bike delivered quickly to those who receive broken ones because if someone eventually cancels after six months of waiting… well, they have plenty of new orders on the way.
And this won’t hurt them in the short term since they currently have more demand than production capability, but I think they are really hurting their long-term potential, as many people are now so frustrated with them that they will never order anything from them again.
Another issue that has repeated itself this year is Class Purges. This is where Peloton gets rid of a large portion of classes from its library, often with no warning and no communication given.
This obviously gets the community upset. Peloton could easily give a heads up about which classes will be removed and possibly even give some reasons (they don’t even have to be great reasons, to be honest) about why they are being removed.
Just this last week, the company upset some of the Peloton Community by silently removing the ability to pair the Apple Watch with Bootcamps. If that had been announced beforehand, I don’t believe it would have been nearly as big an issue. The company would have been better able to effectively communicate why it needed to remove this feature due to Apple Gym Kits Terms of Service.
From the outside, it looks like Peloton really tries to hide anything that could potentially make them look bad, but by doing so, they actually look worse.
They then tend to be on the defensive when news breaks out or people notice an issue. This leaves them in a bad position because they have to try and wrestle back the narrative (which is much harder than addressing the issue earlier with good and clear communication).
So if the solution is better communication and not ignoring important issues to their community, how does Peloton go about doing that?
Well, fitness, in general, is pretty new to Online Live Service, so I think it would be wise of them look at other industries who have dealt with these type of growing pains and creating solutions already.
For example, they could look at what some of the better companies in the video game industry are doing, as they have about 10-20 more years of experience communicating constant updates, features, patches, and other changes to a large and dedicated fanbase.
One thing that these companies should do is have a (or even a few) community manager. These are people who help direct info on updates, patches, and answer questions to their communities where they exist on Reddit, Facebook groups, forums, etc.
They often write weekly posts covering all the new info and help address current and future issues in whatever ways they realistically can.
This is not the only thing, but Peloton just needs to find a way to be proactive with its communication and not try to hide or ignore things important to its community.
Don’t wait for the news to reveal issues. Don’t let things fester in toxic Facebook groups… just address it. And keep addressing it until it is fixed. Let people know what to do if their bike comes broken and make delivering them a new bike a top priority.
Peloton is the king of the mountain right now, but that can always change. But if the company can solve its communication issues, I think it will be in a much better position long term.