How long must we suffer bill shock

Written by on March 23, 2015 in BillingViews, Opinion with 0 Comments

Angry elderly manWe really should be beyond bill shock. And yet stories like this appear that make us hold our heads in our hands. Indeed the BillingViews team sympathise to such an extent, the head actually hurts. Getting a bill for £15,000 with no explanation and a request for payment is not acceptable. A £15,000 bill will trigger bill shock (bill rage?) on a grand scale, particularly if the customer has already spent eight hours on the phone to the company trying to get it sorted or at least an explanation.

This problem was caused by an ‘internal communications error’ and we are busy wondering what that means. Bear in mind that this is the same Vodafone that reported increased revenues of between one and two percent because they are now using real time functionality and analytics, to better offer their customers services at the right time and in the right way. Well, some of them anyway.

Fundamentally, this is a classic example of common sense being absent from the customer service process. There was clearly no-one to take the case and discuss it properly. No-one seemed to know why the increased bill occurred, even when the customer said he not used any more data than before.

The sad part is that we now talk of omni-channel support and the need to link real time capabilities into a centralised view of the customer. And yet still these stories of bill shock appear. And it would be reasonably safe to say that there was some ‘manual workaround’ which caused the problem, and then probably the ‘threshold manager’ was not updated and then everyone looked at everyone else and no-one took responsibility. And that is a fundamental customer service issue.

Stories like this will keep appearing until there is responsibility, common sense, IT investment, centralisation and automation in place. We will continue to publish them.

The lack of common sense is not limited to a few customers in telecoms. The latest BillingViews experience – which was not about bill shock – was with their bank. We need to pay people in euros. So, we thought we would ring the bank and get them to add a euro account to our main GBP one. It took a month and two forms. And then we found it wasn’t linked online, so we had no way of actually paying people in, er, euros. Emails flew through the ether. Ah, said the bank you cannot add a euro account to an existing account online, you have to apply for a new type of online account. And there is a charge.

The bit that made the whole exercise amusing is that when the steam had cooled a little, we went online to track down the new online account which we could attach our existing online account to and discovered – yup – we could not apply for the new online account online. We have to phone a number. So far we have not felt up to the frustration of the whole thing and will end up putting a cheque in the post.

We know that good and seamless customer service are the table stakes if our industry is to have a chance at providing commercial value to Digital Service Provider partners. Why won’t someone tell someone who has the authority to make it happen. Maybe they are too busy hiding under their desks and avoiding cross customers camping in Reception.

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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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