Improving the UX: sometimes it's all about the remote

Improving the UX: sometimes it's all about the remote

Tom Weiss, Mon 15 February 2016

Data analytics is not an end product but a means to better decision making and improved User Experience. It can help TV service providers take actions that boost their performance both on the bottom line and top line in the face of intensifying competition from online players in particular. The current European onslaught from Netflix will not have gone unnoticed amid some dazzling statistics. In Belgium 10% of Internet capacity was consumed by streaming content to the operator’s new subscribers within four days of the launch there. Our mission is to help operators respond to this threat by playing to their strengths both in provision of premium content and their relationship with customers, in the first instance by tapping data that until now they have not had access to. The traditional TV remote is a very good starting place since it is still the primary interface with the TV service for most consumers, despite all the talk about using smartphones and tablets.

If the remote is well designed it can encourage consumers to delve deeper into the catalogue and watch programs they might otherwise have missed. It can stimulate upselling and avoid the frustration resulting when failing to find desired content. The flip side is that a badly designed remote can quickly ferment customer dissatisfaction and preempt churn, while deterring browsing. We can drill down into how the remote control is faring with data across the customer base on which keys are used and how often they are pressed on a daily basis. Here we show an image from a typical operator highlighting how remote control design often leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps operators focus too much on the UX behind the screen without considering that the remote can prevent their customers from enjoying its full scope.

Some of the data is fairly standard and of only passing interest from the UX perspective, such as the use of the volume and power buttons. But on this chart one item does stand out, the lack of engagement with the Guide, with less than half of users bothering with it at all and even those that do only pressing the button on average about twice a day. This is quite an indictment of the remote’s design by failing to give the Guide sufficient prominence or scope for exploration. The importance of the Guide as a differentiator has grown as the amount of content has proliferated, making it harder to find what you want from an increasingly long tail. This has been recognized by leading operators like BSkyB, which have recently revamped their Guides completely to give greater prominence to online content and typically introduce search capabilities for locating content by genre, actor, title and so on.

The impact of such new Guides can be assessed with the analysis that we can execute on the data we obtain. In the case of the above chart the operator must conclude that something is seriously wrong. It looks either like the Guide is so bad that customers aren’t using it, or more likely that the remote control is at fault by discouraging users from accessing it. It used to be said that all remotes were bad, but just that some weren’t too bad. Now armed with the data and more importantly the analysis we can provide, there is really no excuse any more for remote controls failing to do justice to the underlying service and the associated Guide. They should be enablers not barriers to a service.

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Dativa is a global consulting firm providing data consulting and engineering services to companies that want to build and implement strategies to put data to work. We work with primary data generators, businesses harvesting their own internal data, data-centric service providers, data brokers, agencies, media buyers and media sellers.

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