Wireless bill shock, typically from higher-than-expected roaming charges or device theft, is a major issue for wireless carriers and consumers worldwide. No matter the cause, providers are left with potential lost revenue, angry customers and a relationship to repair. Not only do governments and regulatory agencies take this seriously, but any provider that wants to retain its customers must take the necessary steps to prevent bill shock.
After many instances of consumers receiving bills for thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars, the FCC enacted new guidelines for wireless carriers. Now, U.S. carriers are required to send a series of free usage alerts to their subscribers, and other countries are following suit. Real-time usage notification can prevent bill shock by empowering customers to take control of their data usage and allows operators to create upsell opportunities for customers who have reached their data usage allowance.
But what about smaller charges that may not equal thousands of dollars, but are just as surprising? You often hear stories of absurdly high charges, but bill shock also occurs when customers see unexpected or confusing charges. Truly improving the billing experience and enhancing the carrier-consumer relationship requires a change throughout the whole customer experience, not just a one-time notification.
Companies can implement many other changes to prevent bill shock beyond real-time notifications, including:
- Simplifying wireless plans and features
- Increasing transparency of rates, terms and conditions
- Providing customers with more detailed summaries of past usage or average annual use, rather than just monthly charges in their bill
- Offering customers appropriate value-added services, such as an online account to monitor activity or an international data package for use while roaming
- Ensuring customers have a “right-fit” plan that best suits their usage
- Encouraging customers to check their bill more than once a month, especially when roaming, to monitor charges
Long story short: providers should take a holistic approach and better educate their customers on an ongoing basis. Some of the top wireless carriers are doing just that by incorporating personalized video stories into their customer communication strategy. Using an engaging medium such as video and tailoring the message to each individual proves to be incredibly effective at delivering messages that resonate.
Addressing potential billing concerns early in the relationship means customers better understand their new plans, and carriers can reduce billing-related calls to the call center, support costs and customer churn, while beginning to build a positive customer relationship. Carriers have several opportunities to engage and educate customers with personalized video.
Here are a few:
- A provider can explain potential charges such as activation fees or spending limits at the time of purchase or sign-up, rather than at the first bill. At the point of sale – whether online or in-store – as the salesperson inputs a customer’s information and plan details, he can also generate a personalized video for the customer to view and acknowledge before completing the transaction. The video is specific to the customer and explains all of the immediate activation or one-time charges, as well as what to expect during the first billing cycle.
- This can be followed with an additional personalized video during the onboarding period, which details the individual’s plan to help customers understand and get the most out of their service and available features, while also giving the carrier an opportunity to present an upsell offer, if appropriate.
- Carriers can use personalized video bills to proactively explain billing charges to customers, reducing cases of bill shock and ensuring they receive only the relevant and necessary billing details. Personalized video bills also increase stickiness and uptake on value-added services, such as paperless billing and autopay. Take a look at how AT&T uses personalized video billing with its U-Verse customers: