Are You Ready to Support Your Digital Streaming Subscribers?

June 28, 2018 Terry Arnold

We all know Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime—but more and more organizations are entering the digital streaming marketplace for the first time. As a new frontier, it can be hard to know what to expect, and thinking through the entire process of launching a streaming content offering can be a daunting task at best. Particularly when you consider the risk of negatively impacting the customer experience—or even worse, lost revenue because of unforeseen obstacles resulting from inexperience or poor planning of the support process. It’s important to get it right when the stakes are this high. 

For example, let’s say you’re a national sports league with millions of subscribers tuned in to the final game in the championship series. With just moments remaining to tip off, face off, or kick off, the screens of tens of thousands of your subscribing customers go blank. The digital stream is lost from their devices, and your subscribers are scrambling to reconnect. Within moments, ten thousand of your customers call your support center, another fifteen thousand are pounding your Twitter handle, and your chat windows are ablaze.

Are you prepared for that?

With just moments remaining to tip off, face off, or kick off, the screens of tens of thousands of your subscribing customers go blank. The digital stream is lost from their devices, and your subscribers are scrambling to reconnect. Are you prepared for that?

It’s happened before—and as certain as the final game-winning goal bounces off the rim, post or uprights, it will happen again. What if it happens to your content? Do you have the support structure that has what it takes to reconnect your enraged customers who come clawing for their content? 

The moral of this story is that if you're going to launch a streaming content offering, setting up your support center and its staff for success is key. Based upon our experiences managing digital streaming clients in a variety of industries—including high-traffic sports and entertainment brands—we’ve learned there are several common questions that digital streaming providers face as they build their support organizations. Read on for our advice on seven of these important inquiries.

1. How do I determine the number of support resources I need when setting up my program?

Often the most challenging part of getting a plan in place is determining how many support resources are necessary for your program. With sales forecasts for a new solution in-hand, you'll need answers to a couple questions before you give it go: 

  • How many new customers signing up to the service will encounter enough of an on-boarding problem that they will seek assistance? 
  • While signing up, what time of day are they most likely to reach out and engage?
  • Depending upon the nature of your audience, what support channels will they approach first for assistance? Do they need to talk to someone, or would they prefer self-service? 
  • What expectations might these new customers have for the skill level of the resource to solve their issue? 
  • How long will it take to reach resolution of an issue they are attempting to solve?

Although it’s difficult to know with complete certainty the answers to these questions, it’s critical to know these are the right questions to ask. In planning this initial stage of digital streaming, it’s key to have solid plans for workforce management (WFM). Seasoned WFM analysts will effectively shape your support resources around the right times of day to have your team positioned to engage your customers in the most likely support channels (e.g. voice, chat, email, social, or support forum).

2. How do I acquire and retain the right people to support my customers across the many channels in play?

A good place to start is to recruit talent with multichannel agility, which will allow your support team the flexibility to channel demand, assuring your customers receive consistent support in the channel of their choice.

However, if you’re focused on entering a new market with a subscription streaming solution, it’s also important to know the persona of your brand. Everyone requires bright, articulate, empathetic people to provide customer service, but what is the persona of your brand, and how do you want that persona to play out in the customer experience? As more and more companies are differentiating themselves through the quality of service they provide, there is a growing number of brands who have taken experience to the next level by projecting their brand within their service and support organization, through the people and interfaces they offer in their support channels.

Everyone requires bright, articulate, empathetic people to provide customer service, but what is the persona of your brand, and how do you want that persona to play out in the customer experience? 

Obviously, your talent acquisition team needs to be fully engaged with the concept of recruiting to the brand persona and must be aligned to deliver those resources to achieve your objectives. Once these individuals are on board, it’s also important to incentivize behaviors that support the personification of the brand experience and closely align with the quality objectives of the center. Retention of employees is important, but not more important than retaining the right people. 

3. How is training handled when I can’t anticipate all of the different support issues my customer will experience on various devices?

Although every digital streaming deployment is different, the platforms on which customers access content is somewhat similar across the industry. Whether it’s on iOS or Android, through phones or tablets, Apple TV, Roku or other emerging technologies, identifying the source of customer issues quickly and moving them toward resolution in a timely manner is the most critical competency you must master.

To master this competency, you'll need a solid business intelligence team (in house or through a support partner) that embraces continuous improvement as a core function. As devices are continually updated with new firmware, new problems and support issues will begin to arise. A rigorous, continuous improvement process will recognize new issues, create and confirm resolutions and inform the training, coaching and knowledge base resources to continually improve the support services. Quick, accurate and timely resolution to new customer support issues is key to achieve success.  

It will also help you to have a team of skilled content developers with experience in adult learning in order to create training that aligns with the specific issues associated with your new service. If you plan to use a partner, look for one with existing training content and experienced facilitators who already work in these environments—you don't need to reinvent the wheel. 

4. How do I anticipate and manage resources when response volumes seem to unpredictably surge and subside across multiple channels?

It’s no longer acceptable to make customers hold for twenty minutes because the contact center isn’t staffed to manage an unexpected surge in demand.

There will be unforeseen instances that seemingly come out of the blue; for example, there could be a power outage in the stadium during a Yankees, Red Sox game that drives subscription streaming customers to conclude the service was broken and rush support channels. But being contingency-minded will help alleviate and solve what appears to be an unmanageable catastrophe.

Digital streaming support requires a balanced approach to anticipating key volume drivers. 

Digital streaming support requires a balanced approach to anticipating key volume drivers. Consider that final championship series I mentioned above, or a highly-anticipated launch of a new subscription service. These "catastrophes" can be successfully mitigated through sound workforce management coupled with intelligently configured technologies to preempt demand and provide a superior customer experience. 

5. There are so many customer experience (CX) platforms that claim to be superior. How do I choose the right one?

Rather than making a technology choice based upon the most popular brand with the most apps in its exchange, search out a provider who builds, configures and integrates solutions in a real-world environment. This type of provider will bring invaluable insight into the construction of a customer experience based on actual subscriber behavior. It’s important to know the tools are like Lego bricks; configuring the bricks requires a level of expertise to achieve the functionality necessary to achieve the success you desire. In other words, build a "humanistic" technology ecosystem that serves your needs and the needs of your customers.

6. Can I measure and anticipate the customer experience rather than simply react to problems as they arise?

Adopting simple measurement practices is not enough to ensure a good customer experience. It’s vital to have a process in place to critically observe measurement results and create methods for improvements. The best customer support organizations now require astute observation of response across multiple channels and offer solid guidance on how to impact change to not only reduce dissatisfaction, but to inform all other channels that engage the customer. The ability to quickly recognize the emergence of new issues and create new solutions to problems people have yet to experience reduces downstream dissatisfaction, reduces support costs and retains customers in the long run. 

7. With all the metrics derived from various support channels, how do I make sense of it all and use it to guide my decision making going forward?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of data available, and this can only add to the difficulty of determining what is most important to the customer experience. Connecting relevant metrics from quality, customer satisfaction (CSAT), first-contact resolution (FCR), and customer effort score (CES) data is key to understanding how the business is supporting, driving or detracting from the customer experience. You'll want to develop a balanced approach to data evaluation that will lead you toward an understanding of what is important to measure and manage.

Bonus: Is it time to find a partner?

From recruiting to WFM, adult learning to content development, successfully supporting a digital streaming service is no simple feat. Having a provider who has the bandwidth (literally and figuratively!) to build these processes into the overall customer support model can make all the difference—and this is especially true for your new streaming and subscription-based offerings where long-term retention is key to achieving revenue targets.

Check out some of the digital streaming clients we've supported:

About the Author

Terry Arnold

Terry Arnold, Senior Director and Solution Consultant, has extensive experience guiding customers in the design and development of inbound and outbound contact center programs in a wide range B2B and B2C markets. With over 28 years of experience in the development, execution and management of integrated direct marketing programs, Terry has filled an ever-widening array of roles related to managing customer engagements.

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