Witnessing Roaming Cost Control In Action

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Last week, while at Comptel’s headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, I received the following text from my service provider:

“You’ve spent £34.04 (ex VAT) on data in Europe. We won’t charge you any more on your current bill, but we’ll stop the data service if you go over 50 MB.”

What an odd message! I thought:

  • Why the somewhat random £34.04?
  • What is 50 MB; how much daily usage does it represent? And how much have I used already?
  • What can I do about it? Can I up my quota? The message gives no indication of that.

Of course, I immediately recognized this message as an implementation of the European Union’s (EU) Roaming Cost Control legislation—not a weird, threatening and inconvenient message. I could hazard a guess that the £34.04 (plus 17.5% VAT) could be equivalent roughly to the legislation’s limit of €50. And I also knew that I had the right to change that limit. So all in all, the message made me smile. I called my service provider and was able to up my credit limit (to an equally bafflingly random figure incidentally). Problem solved—for now at least.

However, how would other customers feel about this message, especially if, like me, they were travelling on business and needed data services for their jobs? My guess is they would not have been too happy about this message, even if they do understand the benefits of avoiding bill shock. What might they have done about it? I guess there are two options here: either they stopped using data services or, like me, they called the service provider.

In other words, for the service provider in question, this text resulted in either a lost opportunity for further revenue or a cost for handling customer calls—not to mention the potential customer dissatisfaction.

Yet, all of this could have been so easily avoided if the message had been better phrased, and if it gave an option to increase the limit by simply replying to the text.

There is so much talk these days in our industry about policy control as a tool for personalization and improved customer experience. It seems, however, that some implementations do not quite live up to that aspiration—yet.

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