5 Easy Steps to Better QoE in an OTT World

By Stephane Bourque, Incognito Software Systems

QoE in an OTT World The 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) results are in - and they're not good.

The annual survey, which polls more than 70,000 customers about the products and services they use the most, indicated that customer satisfaction with information services - including subscription TV, Internet, wireless and fixed-line telephone, and computer software - dropped 3.4% to a score of 68.8 on a 0 to 100 scale.

What the heck is happening?

Credited to rising prices, poor customer service, inflexible choices, and lack of self-service control, these results (which are the lowest among 43 other industries on the index) represent a continuous decline in customer quality of experience (QoE) for service providers, who fell to their lowest score in seven years.

As competitive operators continue to lure each other's customers away with costly marketing promotions and service discounts, broadband providers can no longer ignore the demand to offer a better QoE to their subscribers. These risks are even greater as over-the-top (OTT) content threatens to pull subscribers away from traditional TV entirely. At the same time, multiscreen viewing continues to gain traction - Nielsen recently reported that 58% of global respondents say they browse the Internet while watching video programming - making it even more imperative for service providers everywhere to find ways to revamp their customer experience management strategies so they can work their way back up the satisfaction index. If they wait any longer, they risk losing revenue to aimless promotions while doing nothing to help prevent subscriber churn.

Here are five easy ways to improve broadband customer QoE:

  1. Make Smarter Decisions with Better Network Insight - Service providers need an automated solution that can collect, analyze and normalize data elements from across their service network. Using low-impact processes, like IPDR data collection, operators can extract key insights from their network on a variety of configurable scales, including by region, by CMTS/CCAP, by service level agreement (SLA), or even by individual subscriber premises. Gaining this insight helps operators make more intelligent decisions when dealing with common problems like bandwidth congestion management and capacity planning, so that subscriber service quality continues to be delivered as promised throughout a subscriber's service contract.
  2. Offer Personalized Services - The advent of virtual technologies gives service providers the opportunity to offer adaptive service packages from a catalog-driven platform that tailors service experiences to meet the needs of each individual subscriber. By providing services based on the unique behaviors and patterns of their subscribers, service providers can open up countless ways to improve QoE with more agile service offerings, while also better monetizing subscriber services with targeted promotions and advertising campaigns. Customers know what they want - it's time to let them to choose their own service experience.
  3. Focus on Rapid Service Activation - At the end of any business transaction, customers just want their purchases to work. It's an all-too-common issue in the broadband services industry that purchased devices require the help of customer service representatives and technicians in order to be activated. This creates pain points for subscribers even before they've had a chance to begin using services, and gives the wrong impression off the bat. Operators need fast, automatic, device-agnostic service activation. By enabling subscribers with devices that just work, you've already improved their service experience.
  4. Proactively Optimize Service Performance - As new protocols and technologies are introduced to help diagnose service performance issues at unprecedented speeds, service providers are now in a position where they can resolve device and network issues before the subscriber is even affected. To do this, operators must configure a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that monitor common pain-points within their network, and then automate notification triggers to network operation teams when issues occur. Subscribers remain satisfied not knowing about issues that might have tarnished their QoE. If issues do reach the subscriber, operators need intuitive remote customer management portals that see beyond subscriber gateways and into individual user devices, working rapidly to identify and resolve any customer issues.
  5. Consider Subscriber Self-service Portals - As a whole, broadband subscribers are now more technically savvy than ever, especially in major markets like North America and Europe. Configuring self-service portals to match the technical know-how of each subscriber empowers broadband customers to control various device and network functions without the need for customer service representative assistance. This also helps to eliminate the "big brother" perception that many subscribers have of their service providers. The DIY lifestyle shouldn't just be for gardeners and homemakers - it can easily extend into broadband services.

It's an OTT world, and it's never been more important for service providers to prove their worth to their subscribers if they want to stay relevant in the next decade. But following these five steps will allow operators to see immediate results in terms of improving subscriber QoE and reducing churn - and might even give them the opportunity to lure a few extra customers away from their competitors at the same time.

Stephane Bourque is CEO and president of Incognito Software Systems. Reach him at stephb@incognito.com.

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