Billing is still key to customer experience – do not round up

Written by on April 5, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Billing - rounding upBilling discussions of a few years ago sometimes focused on the thorny issues of rounding. If you called your mother and your call lasted 55 seconds, then your phone company would probably round up to a minute. This does not sound like much but multiply that by the number of customers doing this and it comes to a lot of money. This was particularly true if the call to your mother lasted four minutes and two seconds and you were charged for five minutes.

It is the same business model as Coleman’s mustard, who makes their money out of what is left on your plate. To be fair – or perhaps unfair – to telecoms companies, it was probably because they actually couldn’t bill to the second.

Now, Australian group ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumer Action Net- work) has discovered that the same thing is happening with data. Although not widespread, there is a practice on some older plans whereby a data session is ‘rounded up’ in the same way that voice once was. In their study, called Megacharge, they discovered that when a data session (any interaction with the internet) was on-going it would be rounded up to the nearest megabyte. For the most part, this did not make much difference, but the average ‘loss’ was 23 percent, with some customers losing as much as 80 percent of their data in this way.

We are moving, rapidly, into a transactional, digital and agile model for service providers, and this is the overwhelming focus for our industry.

In the meantime, however, we must not forget that the current cornerstone of the telecoms company’s business relies on regular billing. We must not lose sight of the fact that billing must be transparent and issues such as rounding (and issues such as the ‘dark revenue’ that telecoms companies make from charging for paper, for example) should be carefully weighed against reputational damage and the increasing ability of customers to churn. It is becoming ever easier for them to do so.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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