Traditional cable and satellite subscriptions are quickly declining, making watching streaming video for daily entertainment the new normal. With 22 million people in the U.S. “cutting the cord,” cookie-cutter approaches to entertainment services must change rapidly to meet and exceed evolving expectations of savvy consumers. The subscription video on-demand (SVOD) era puts customers in control, cementing the customer experience (CX) as the differentiator by which all services must compete.
Because streaming customers have been at the bleeding edge of the technology since its inception, their expectation that services will anticipate their needs is high. However, consumers today subscribe to an average of three streaming services—indicating no single service meets the CX needs of the average consumer. There is a great opportunity for SVODs to become the single service that attracts and delights customers, earning loyalty by offering a flawless and relevant customer experience.
UserTesting recently published the Streaming Media Customer Experience Index, a competitive benchmarking study of the top five SVOD apps—Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube TV—to uncover why 500 SVOD customers experience frustration or delight.
The study revealed three ways streaming media companies can dominate the next generation of SVOD experiences:
Create relevant recommendations
While recommendations were easy to find among the SVOD apps, with the exception of HBO Now, most fell short when it came to providing recommendations the customer actually found relevant—only 29% reported actually watching suggested content. Balance data (the what) with human insights (the why) to understand which recommendations are relevant.
Deliver fast, friction-free viewing
Customers expected immediate access to content without ads and had little patience for lags, long loading times, or other delays. For most apps, scrubbing worked to find a specific scene; however, the feature quickly became tedious when scrubbing was limited to 10-second increments. SVODs can learn from Netflix, which set the bar for this category, given its intuitive site, easy scrubbing with previews, and multiple sources for recommendations.
Expand content variety
The UserTesting study found limited content is a major drawback for subscribers of all the services studied. More than half of participants subscribed to more than one streaming service to meet their content needs. SVODs across the board lacked the desired mix of original content as well as network programming – and many were frustrated when content presented was only available for an additional fee. The internet has raised millions of users who expect to have everything they want, exactly when they want it, and they’ll constantly be searching for the service that can give it to them.
Streaming is not mobile yet
In addition, product, marketing, and digital customer experience teams at SVODs should keep viewing habits in mind when conducting customer experience research. Streaming video content isn’t just for computers. The UserTesting study found smart TVs and streaming media devices, such as the Roku, Apple TV, and Firestick, were the preferred watching device for nearly half of participants. Only 11% cited their smartphone or tablet as their primary streaming device, but nearly 40% used those mobile devices as their secondary mode of watching streaming content, with 20% of participants streaming content on secondary devices daily.
The streaming media companies that get to the why behind the what, that is, actually capturing human insights, will have the upper hand as they make customer-centric decisions that earn loyal subscribers. The study found 90% of HBO customers also subscribed to Netflix, and 80% to Amazon Prime. Just think about the opportunity to be the one-stop SVOD for the masses. It could happen, if you continuously listen to customer expectations throughout their entire journey.