Set your customers free

Australia has been a hotbed of debate over the nature of digital pirates. It makes sense, since we’re a country of pirates. Multiple surveys show Australians are per capita downloading more illegal copies of television shows and movies than anywhere else in the world.

Telstra is taking an axe to this, announcing this week the company would be throttling P2P traffic on its networks. This means anyone detected to be using this type of technology, which is used by torrents, will have their internet speeds reduced dramatically.

It’s a good way to curb piracy. Of course, it doesn’t really address the key issue at hand.

Telstra is more than in the right when protecting copyrighted content. After all, a significant stakeholder in Foxtel, the company is looking out for itself and its partners when attempting to stop the delivery of copyrighted material online.

But take a look at why people download this type of material. It’s usually because of two reasons: They’re not getting it fast enough, and they don’t have control over the way it’s used.

The online market is changing. Television viewers don’t want to sit down at the same time every week to watch a show. They want to watch it whenever they want, however they want. (Did you see Netflix debuted its new show, House of Cards, online last week – with all 10 episodes uploaded at once? This is the future of content – giving the customer full control).

It’s not just a matter of “fast-tracking” shows from the United States. Customers want full operational control over the way their content is delivered.

So what does that mean for you?

Consider how you’re delivering your own services. Are you giving customers control? Why or why not?

Sometimes it’s good to take control away from the consumer in order to give them a higher quality choice, or a streamlined experience. But when it comes to the type of choices and access you’re offering, maybe it’s best to think about all the channels you can use.

This doesn’t just apply to a company like Netflix. It applies to retailers. For instance, are you giving people the ability to find stock online, locate their nearest store, and then pick it up? Do they have access to a mobile site?

It also makes sense if you’re a service provider, even in B2B. Even a gardening franchise – do you allow your customers to book services online? Can they specify what type of services they want, and even change the time of the booking if need be? Do they have a login for your website where they can search previous bookings?

The internet has given us so much freedom. Customers just want the same amount of freedom as anyone else. That’s why people pirate film and television. And that’s why you should cater your business to allow as much user control as you can allow.

Give your business an audit for control. Look at where your customers may feel like they’re being restricted, then figure out ways to set them free.

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