The last few years have witnessed a complete overhaul in media consumption with the rise of OTT (Over the Top) media services. The rapid adoption of OTT can be credited to the flexibility and autonomy that it provides to control media consumption placing it in the hands of the consumer. Additionally, the rise of mobile internet penetration and the improvement of the underlying infrastructure further pushed OTT towards its superstar status.
This market is witnessing phenomenal growth across the world, not just in developed economies but in emerging markets as well, with expectations that it will cross $83.4 billion by 2022.
As this market grows, users increase, platforms and content evolve, and the ‘streaming wars’ intensify, streamlining payments and billing become critical for customer acquisition and retention. With intensifying competition, providing a seamless payment experience complemented with accurate billing is presently as important as high-quality content. However, OTT billing is anything but simple owing to constantly shifting consumer behaviors and expectations of the same flexibility in billing as the flexibility to consume content of choice.
The key challenges of OTT billing
One of the main sore spots of OTT billing, interoperability can present a challenge depending on the device, OS, and application being used while consuming content. This becomes even more complicated when using feature phones and non-IP-based devices and can lead to fragmented billing. Legacy billing systems further compound the problem as they are not agile enough and might need a complete overhaul to manage OTT billing correctly.
Identifying product bundling opportunities:
OTT providers have to stay in-step with evolving consumer preferences and usage patterns. Relying on traditional products and services alone cannot support high revenue goals in today’s mature OTT market. OTT providers have to leverage product and services bundling to capitalize on revenue opportunities and capably bring new products and services to the consumers. To achieve this, OTT providers need deep data-backed insights into usage patterns and preferences. They also need access to complete customer profiles along with their billing history to identify subscription bundles and prevent revenue leaks.
Maintaining the quality of Service:
Revenue generation is directly proportional to customer satisfaction. OTT providers have to ensure a high quality of service delivered for the application and the services. Ensuring rapid delivery of services and charging accurately for the same assumes paramount importance to drive customer satisfaction. This can only be achieved using a robust billing solution.
Features that OTT billing solutions should offer:
Clearly, OTT billing comprises many moving parts, all of which must come together seamlessly to create a winning experience. To simplify complex OTT billing and to make sure that no revenue leaks from the cracks, here are the features that OTT billing solutions must possess.
Simplify complex subscription billing:
Subscriber billing management is critical for OTT success. Capably managing subscription billing helps OTT providers expand revenues by providing greater package flexibility. With deep insights into usage patterns, they can bundle or unbundle digital content and offer greater price flexibility. To manage subscription billing effectively, providers need an end-to-end subscription management and billing platform that can capably scale multiple subscription-based models to suit customer’s unique needs. It should also help organizations engage and manage billing for subscribers even in fragment markets using any currency, employing any payment option in a language-agnostic manner.
In the age of instant everything, why should service provisioning not be so? Consumers do not have the patience to wait longer for service provisioning and will readily move to another operator in the absence of quick provisioning. As such, the billing solution must use automated service activation for the same.
With a multitude of OTT platforms to choose from, identifying usage patterns becomes critical to provide the right price personalization. With consumers hopping between platforms, offering flexible subscription offering is vital. It is equally important to incentivize these subscription plans by leveraging elements such as limited period offers, freemiums, and other such deals.
A robust billing and subscription management platform can enable this and allow providers to up limited-period discounts or employ unique pricing bundles using insights gleaned from user data. The billing platform can also allow existing customers to upgrade their subscription plans and allow greater price personalization by setting up limited period discounts or unique promotional bundles.
Simplify order fulfillment:
As with everything else, OTT billing also needs things to stay simple and user friendly. A complicated order fulfillment form does not contribute to this vision. However, order fulfillment parameters are not set-in-stone and are often not the same for everyone. Hence, the OTT billing solution should provide a robust workflow engine to drive the flexibility to configure workflows to define the operation flows for order fulfillment. It should allow users to configure various tasks and subtasks with ease and as a part of the workflow definition to further refine provisioning and make service activation faster.
A robust service delivery platform also has to be a part of the billing platform to make order fulfillment faster by taking the order through a defined workflow such as the service feasibility checking stage, reservation stage, and provisioning and activating the service faster.
Manage customer profiles and subscription plans:
Optimizing OTT revenue demands managing different customer profiles and subscription plans capably while designing creative pricing strategies. To achieve this, organizations need a robust and secure billing and subscription management platform that can support multiple pricing models, allow them to test pricing models with users, and capably align pricing with company goals and subscriber demand.
Capable management of customer profiles and subscription plans becomes essential as it provides deep insights into user behavior and helps providers manage the billing needs and expectations of the end-user. It also aids OTT platforms to personalize and manage complex subscription plans, add new products, upgrade or downgrade subscriptions, automatically cancel/renew/pause plans, and update payment methods from a single place according to user demands.
Comprehensive service portal:
An OTT billing solution should also be able to give more autonomy and control to users to manage their subscription plans. From flexibility to update account information themselves, change account profile information, contact info and add new payment, view invoices, pay and download receipts; the billing platform should have a comprehensive service portal to enable these features.
Along with this, an agile service desk that records customer interactions and responses via multiple touchpoints as well as allows them to raise tickets are great features that drive customer satisfaction.
OTT billing is a complex maze and to navigate that complex maze, much like how our gadgets now multitask, an OTT billing solution has to do more than just provide basic accounting services. It has to make sure that revenue is optimized, prevent revenue leaks, provide usage insights, and capably support the customer to drive satisfaction and loyalty. As customer expectations continue to evolve and customer experience takes center stage, OTT service providers have to make sure that their billing and payment solutions keep up with their offerings to drive the desired revenue outcomes and do not fail them or their customers.
OTT providers who want to maximize their revenue, reduce costs, and avoid unnecessary revenue leakage, should learn more about OneBill!