The video streaming industry has been experiencing significant growth while at the same time consumer expectations have continued to rise, and competition has become ever more fierce. The industry is at a point of inflection where only those service operators who can transition to satisfy the consumer demands while controlling costs, will succeed. Remote monitoring and service management is not new, but stakes have become higher and it can no longer be considered as a secondary aspect of the service offering.

Happier customers: The ultimate goal

Bill Hughes

William Hughes, Head of Product Management at Amino Communications

Ultimately, the success of any video service hinges on customer satisfaction. When viewers enjoy high-quality content without interruptions, their satisfaction levels increase, leading to higher retention rates and positive word-of-mouth referrals. What’s interesting is that many service providers say they still want at least one Set Top Box (STB) in the home. Why? Because it is the final stage in the video delivery pipeline and is therefore one of the best places to measure the user experience. Remote monitoring and management of these devices therefore plays a pivotal role to achieve this goal. With the correct tools, providers can identify potential bottlenecks, latency issues and other network-related problems before they impact users. When a user does encounter an issue, frustrations only grow when the customer service agent does not have the tools to understand and resolve the problem. Giving the service agents the ability to see what the subscriber sees and to control the device remotely can drastically reduce call times, confusion and frustration.

The convenience and ease of remote services also resonate with modern consumers who value instant solutions. Neither the customer nor the service provider wants technician visits. Customers find the experience of waiting for technicians to arrive on-site, missed appointments and delay hugely frustrating and even when best practices are implemented, they are negative experiences.

Not all management platforms are focused on the above aims, with many providing little more than outdated Automatic Configuration System (ACS) functionality of firmware deployment and configuration. An effective implementation of management tools must simplify troubleshooting, provide relevant analytics (not just data) and be accepted by customer support teams as an integral part of their toolkit. For an organisation focused on customer service, Net Promoter Scores and churn reduction, these systems are a strategic imperative.

Deployment solutions for cost effectiveness

Amino has implemented features that allow operators to identify memory leaks in a population of deployed devices. This is often a complex issue to diagnose because the impact on the user experience can be so varied, but by introducing appropriate analytics recording memory usage, over time operators are able to identify this root cause and narrow it down to a particular firmware version, device or application.

The use of remote monitoring solutions can also reduce No Fault Found scenarios (NFFs) with comprehensive diagnostics happening in a customer’s home. In NFFs, devices must be tested and returned to the consumer at the operator’s expense. This can lead to customer frustration and churn. A remote solution prevents the carbon expenditure and cost of this process, which helps result in better customer satisfaction and churn reduction.

Every deployment is different and particular types of problems can be unique to a particular type of deployment. An effective management platform should include comprehensive analytics and data collection across a broad range of interfaces and services on the box which are critical to its correct operation. With this approach and a good understanding of the problems incurring the largest costs, it is possible to deliver considerable savings.

Sustainable business practices: A win-win proposition

The convergence of technology and sustainability is reshaping the way businesses operate across industries, and the video delivery sector is no exception. Remote monitoring and management services offer a golden opportunity for video service providers to align their operations with environmentally conscious practices. Engineer visits to a subscriber’s home have a significant environmental cost. Even marginal improvements in this process can have a substantial impact.

Enhanced customer service

Amino: Enhanced customer service

A cloud-based device monitoring service should provide real-time data on device status, history, firmware and other information relevant to service delivery allowing for pre-emptive problem solving. One common use case is the subscriber report of a ‘black screen,’ which too often is diagnosed as a faulty set-top box (STB).

Through remote monitoring, customer service representatives can see if the HDMI cable is plugged in, whether the port is active, or whether a HDCP handshake occurred, which will lead to ruling in or out a faulty HDMI cable. It can also verify if the STB is decoding video and identify installation issues such as low signal level on Wi-Fi connections or QAM. These are just a few of the many use cases where proper diagnostic information can drastically reduce the time to resolution.

Configuration issues account for 30% of truck rolls, and implementation of remote management solutions have allowed operators to significantly reduce this figure.

Aside from the cost savings mentioned previously, service providers will curtail carbon emissions associated with truck rolls, equipment maintenance and energy consumption. A fringe benefit of these systems is that they allow remote access so that customer service representatives can work remotely, lowering the overall office footprint. 

The perception that sustainable practices always come at a cost is wrong. Many are based around efficiency and improving device management can contribute to a cleaner environment and helps service providers to meet their sustainability goals and demonstrate serious steps increasingly being appreciated by eco-conscious consumers.

Amino will be demonstrating its vendor-agnostic SaaS-based suite of remote monitoring and management tools at IBC2023 at stand number 5.C33.