Broadcast Beat Magazine 2018 NAB Show Edition - Page 33

companies is whether consumers trust what they say, after years of relative dissatisfaction from their customer bases. U.S. internet service pro- viders rank last out of 56 customer satisfaction indexes compiled by J.D. Power. Now that the rollback of Net Neutrality is put- ting additional flexibility into the hands of the internet providers, the key question, which will be answered over time, is whether these companies will behave in the best interest of their consum- ers? If companies want to build consumer trust, they should focus on universal principles of cus- tomer experience: • • • • Reliable, low-effort products Fair prices, with value-based incentives Clear communication and flexibility Appreciation of the consumer at all cus- tomer touchpoints Over the past few years, we saw wireless compa- nies push the limits of regulation, offering a good case study of where consumers could benefit from loosened regulations. Wireless providers introduced free subscriptions to streaming video content and “zero-rated” it against usage caps. The offers were compelling, and many customers hopped from one carrier to another in the hyper- competitive wireless space. In fact, we found that nearly one-fifth (18%) of customers who switched wireless carriers in the past year say they receive free streaming media from their new carrier. Wireline providers should look to those wireless plans and pricing structures as a marker of what can be done to enhance customer experience and loyalty. If providers use flexibility to pro- vide meaningful incentives that consumers truly value, the loosened regulations could be a win for all. If providers block and throttle content, or create rigid “cable-like” bundles for internet content, consumers and providers alike would lose. Fundamentals of customer experience reign supreme, and companies who embrace that will win and prosper. As noted, 25% of consumers currently say they don’t have choice in providers. A win for con- sumers would be to see that figure significantly shrink. Convergence of wireless and wireline products and services, and the advent of 5G wire- less technologies, should help. Verizon, for exam- ple, has stated it plans to launch 5G fixed-wireless broadband service in select markets later this year, a service that would be in direct competition to traditional wireline in-home internet service. So where does that leave us? Will loosening of regulations create more competition? Will ISPs adhere to their promise of a free and open internet? Will consumers and small businesses become more or less trustful and satisfied with their internet service? The evidence suggests that ISPs who manage the transition most suc- cessfully will be those who keep the voices of their customers front-and-center as a guide to fair pricing structures and improved overall loy- alty. Based on what we’re seeing in our studies of customer satisfaction across the wireline and wireless industries, more competition resulting in more choices for consumers could be a win for all if ISPs clearly communicate the value of the options they offer in this new era of deregulation. Broadcast Beat Magazine • • 33