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Top 3 Digital Quality Challenges in Media and Telco

Succeeding in streaming media and telecommunications means attracting customers, maintaining subscribers and expanding your reach. While that logic is simple, the practice is far from it. These industries experience high volumes of churn every day, as customers are just a few button pushes away from canceling, and potentially subscribing with a competitor.

So, how do the world’s leading media and telecommunications brands fortify their customer bases? They provide exceptional subscriber experiences. The platforms and products work — from functional features to inclusive design to language and cultural sensitivities. These successful brands overturn every stone to understand and cater to their subscribers — and your lost subscribers.

The State of Digital Quality in Media and Telco 2022 report shines a light on the kinds of defects media and telecommunications companies experience on a daily basis. Severe defects have a material effect on the customer experience — and the bottom line. Here’s what to do about it.

State of Digital Quality 2022: Media and telecommunications survey scope

Media and telecommunications companies account for a significant portion of Applause’s customer base, which means we can pull meaningful insights from this trove of data. Applause analyzed a portion of this data from the calendar year 2021 to provide perspective on digital quality and the customer journey for media and telecommunications subscribers.

The scope of the data includes more than:

  • 10,000 test cycles

  • 140 countries

  • 84,000 bugs

  • 7,000 individual mobile devices

  • 900 different smart TVs

  • 400 OS versions

For a high-level look at the data, please see our media and telecommunications report infographic.

Functional bugs dominate the findings

Functional defects accounted for the vast majority of defects found by Applause testers. Functional issues can range from mild glitches to catastrophic crashes.

Applause categorizes these defects into five categories:

  • Content (9.6%)

  • Crash (3.8%)

  • Functional workflow errors (67.5%)

  • Lags/latency (3.8%)

  • Visual (15.3%)

These defects manifest in myriad ways depending on the app or platform — none good for the user experience. When you can catch defects before they reach the hands of the user, you can help ensure a seamless experience. Yet many companies cut corners on the way to production, prioritizing release deadlines over digital quality. This is a mistake, and, ultimately, a costly one.

However, as the report details, Applause testers found a host of defects in the areas of accessibility, localization, payment and customer journey testing. Many Applause customers contract us solely for functional testing, so don’t assume these lower numbers mean fewer defects exist in these areas. They’re there, and their effects lead to canceled subscriptions.

Three key challenges for media and telecommunications

The State of Digital Quality in Media and Telco 2022 report provides recommendations for media and telecommunications companies based on market trends and testing data. While each company will contend with its own digital quality challenges, some patterns emerge that apply to most — if not all — competitors in the space.

Challenge #1: Device sprawl

New smart TVs reach the market every year, each often containing its own code base. Likewise, OTT devices continue to proliferate. All of this occurs while the cell phone market expands ever outward, with new device/OS combinations popping up all the time, all over the world.

Forget about device labs — you’d need a whole device village to account for all available options, but even that won’t tell you the true story of how in-market customers interact with your products. Not only must media and telecommunications companies test on real devices, they must account for the customer journey with those devices. Whether it’s wear and tear, environment changes or feature/device deprecation, subscribers don’t care — they just expect the product to work, now and continuously.

Challenge #2: Subscriber churn

If you haven’t canceled a media subscription, are you even streaming? Deloitte’s 2022 Digital media trends report noted an average churn rate of 37% in streaming — those numbers range up to 52% for millennials and 51% for Gen Z over a six-month period. Statista logged the telecom/wireless churn rate at 21% in 2020, a number which will almost certainly increase as younger consumers exercise their free will in the marketplace.

Subscribers are more savvy than ever. They unsubscribe with ease, and just as easily find promotional offers or convenient times to resubscribe. This presents a challenge for streaming media and telecommunications providers alike. While rapid consolidation and competition might in some ways mirror the old cable and telephone company market, the subscriber base is far more astute, yet fickle.

Digital quality, not pushy sales tactics or lengthy subscription terms, is at the heart of keeping customers locked in over the long term. The brands that win are the brands that delight customers. The ones that frustrate just lost another subscriber.

Challenge #3: Global expansion

Creators all over the world can feature their content on different platforms. A hit show in South Korea might make its way to the United States in a matter of weeks. On the telecommunications side, European residents can travel between Schengen countries with relative ease — but will their cell phone, wireless device and streaming platforms adapt as easily?

Localization testing is the glue that holds a new market launch together. Language translation is a vastly complicated area but left to in-market validation with native language speakers. Spoken word translation is complicated enough, especially when accounting for slang and regionalisms, but captions must also reflect the local language. And translation is only one component of localization, as cultural sensitivities, color choices, date formats and other criteria can lead to a confusing or even offensive subscriber experience.

Media and telecommunications face the pressure to push into new markets — rightfully so, as the competition for subscriber dollars is more fierce than ever. But new market launches work best when done with a thoughtful approach that takes into account the local subscriber’s wants, worries, needs and values.

Get closer to the customer

All of these areas have two common threads: the need to provide high-quality products, and the need to get as close as possible to your target customer. After all, the product must work well and work well for your target customer — similar, yet different criteria.

It’s fundamental to say that functional, accessibility, localization, payment and customer journey testing help achieve these goals — media and telecommunications companies know that. But what differentiates the ones who succeed from the ones who fail are those who make testing a priority throughout the software development lifecycle.

Companies can make use of crowdtesting at any stage of development to catch defects earlier and improve usability for all subscribers. An adaptive, flexible, comprehensive approach to digital quality is the way to win with consumers. Applause provides vetted, experienced in-market testers with the devices you want to test. With Applause crowdtesters, you can tailor a testing plan that augments your in-house capabilities to deliver real value. Our digital experts comply with NDA agreements (both as a common practice and additional agreements upon request) to protect your intellectual property and prototypes — just one of many ways we take the worry out of your product launch.

Please read the State of Digital Quality in Media and Telco 2022 report to view the testing data and adapt your approach to digital quality.

Published: May 25, 2022
Reading time: 6 min

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