Serving the impatient consumer with a new breed of QoE
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I became an impatient person. The ability to instantly get an answer to nearly any question online got me started years ago. Online shopping, express shipping and streaming video definitely contributed. Maybe it was when I realised that I could troubleshoot, pay, order and ask questions online without ever having to connect with another human.
But once I became used to the online self-service era, there was no going back. The breaking point was the day I was pointed to a phone number for customer service while I was already online, jolting me out of my instant digital service nirvana. I defected to a competing company immediately. Who has time to be put on hold?
In our connected society, consumers have come to expect, and now require, an always-on high level of service. When it comes to quality of service (QoS) in the digital world, it’s hard to meet guarantees when there’s so much that is out of a provider’s control. Most notably, streaming video services require high-quality delivery mechanisms to provide a world class experience, but factors like mobile network reach, interference, cell performance and so on can impact the quality of video delivery.
Preventing digital consumer churn requires new focus on which quality factors are within a provider’s control. This is where the QoS discussion evolves into a digital QoE (Quality of Experience) discussion.
When you consider the projection that by 2019, every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network* , the ability to surround a streaming video service with excellent QoE becomes a huge, and differentiating, part of the digital service provider’s capabilities. QoE of streaming video is directly impacted by video portability – consumers can’t, and don’t want to, watch millions of minutes of video from only their couch. Entitlements caching ensures that consumers can take their video with them – whether to another room in the house, to a different device or to a different location. This capability not only can reduce digital churn, but can create a more loyal customer. From a consumer perspective, think about buying a movie through iTunes on your mobile phone, then realising later that your kids can’t watch that movie on their Xbox when their friends come over. If a provider can offer that same movie on any device using one digital login, the consumer will return for the ease and convenience of the experience.
QoE is a moving target, and for those times when service delivery isn’t flawless, have clear customer care protocols established to compensate consumers in the event of a sub-standard experience. A step in the right direction to boost the QoE of the video stream itself includes leveraging adaptive bitrate playback to provide the best possible experience, allowing the media server to automatically adapt to changes in each user’s network and playback conditions.
Once you know you’re taking steps within your control to smooth video playback and enable it to be watched across devices, you’ve done the heavy lifting, so make sure the basics are covered too. In our experience, the most common customer care actions that consumers need are resetting passwords, updating credentials, and asking device playback questions. By featuring these items on the first screen of a consumer dashboard, customers can take action on those items immediately and have quick issue resolution for common tasks.
In “quick resolution for common tasks,” quick is the operative word. I may be an impatient consumer, but I am one of many. The digital consumer is fickle, demanding and impatient, and every interaction they have with their service provider has the potential to create, or break, the stickiness of the relationship. A solid focus on QoE, and a back-up plan for the factors outside of your control, can keep digital consumers coming back for more.
To ensure QoE is employed as you launch your digital services, it’s time to rethink the digital consumer. The new digital customer is not tied to a location, has multiple devices, and likely shares digital content across their member ecosystem. They expect digital rights to be deployed across devices and transact in a digital commerce ecosystem. And when something goes wrong, which inevitably it will, the ability to provide digital merchandise in the form of coupons, or discounts in real-time to offset the impact becomes critical. Rethinking how you interact with your new digital consumer is the first step in delivering on Quality of Experience.
Author: Chad Dunavant
Bio: Chad Dunavant is vice president of Product Management at CSG International. He is a frequent speaker and author on digital content monetization, marketing and management strategies.