Out of the box thinking

This series of blog posts looks at the role the set-top box plays in helping operators remain relevant and competitive among the many services which are competing for customers’ attention. We continually hear statements that the set-top box (STB) is dead but the frustration of my ‘out of the box’ experience of a new TV, reminded me that these easy to make statements sometimes miss the point.

The operator business model is to provide a service to the consumer whereas the TV is a one-off device purchase. That drives the TV manufacturer to create a device with a laundry list of features and to continually add newer models to encourage replacement with rapid obsolescence. The STB fulfils a quite different role, to enable the operator to provide great consumer experiences on the TVs of today and tomorrow without requiring hardware upgrades.

Our operator customers provide a service. It is therefore important that every aspect of service is considered for the entire lifespan of a subscription. From the point that the consumer subscribes to the service and receives hardware through to and including replacement of a device years later is important. Every aspect of this influences the Net Promotor Score and can result in churn if handled badly.

When that is considered and understood, it becomes easier to understand why Amino product management personnel obsess over every single detail that is important to the consumer experience.

We put a great deal of energy and expertise into ensuring our management tools and setup wizard processes are industry leading. Quick start guides and good labelling are always under review, improved and available to our customers to rebrand and customise. We also colour code ports on some of our products to help customers when referencing guides and to help Customer Service agents to communicate on support calls.

STB

Amino OS also has a role to play. This provides a platform which has been developed and enhanced over many years to prevent the rapid obsolescence of hardware. This is a common criticism of TVs and again the difference in approach we take is a result of a completely different business model and the need to deliver a great service. We have even used Amino OS to upcycle legacy third party devices and this has allowed operators to radically overhaul the software and services deployed in a customers home without any changes or upgrades to the consumers’ hardware. That is significant as it is another ‘churn point’ we eliminate.

Some of these points may seem basic and trivial considered in the context of complex technology, the latest processor specification, video codec or memory configuration. Perhaps, but this is what allows an operator to maintain subscribers and deliver a service not just a device. The set-top box has a role to play for at least as long as operators are relevant and consumers value service. Our recent ‘Voice of the Customer’ survey indicates that this will be the case for some time.

The question of devices is a distraction and at Amino we are going to focus on every aspect of the service operators provide to consumers. The real challenge to overcome is the increasing problem of content silos and fragmentation and the negative impact this has on the user experience. I’ll share some thoughts on that in our next blog post. It is a more difficult challenge and one which presently has no simple answer.

Jonny McKee
Amino’s VP of Product Management & Customer Support