By Douwe van Der Heij, Product Manager, Mobile Data & Advanced Network Solutions
Enhancing the end customer user experience is a big theme within the mobile community. A variety of approaches and technologies are being discussed and deployed to fulfill customer experience enhancement objectives. There are actually some very simple approaches that can be taken to ensure an enhanced customer experience.
According to research commissioned by MACH and conducted by YouGov, the majority (58%) of roaming subscribers switch off their 3G data connections when travelling. Yet it is in this area of data roaming that a particular combination of factors can ensure a very positive customer experience.
Mobile customers perceive that they have very little control over their data roaming usage and associated costs and are concerned about unexpectedly high bills. This has made them cautious, avoiding use of mobile data while roaming. The user experience can be transformed through the adoption of some simple approaches, including the provision of assurance associated with bill shock, so that customers can confidently use data services while they are roaming safe in the knowledge that they will definitely not be facing excessive bills once they get home. By providing tariff transparency and easy to understand service plans, roaming customers will be given more of an incentive to try data roaming services off-net. Advice of charge and balance query options can conveniently be provided through (mobile) web and SMS. By providing a range of self-care services, MNOs can change roaming customers’ perceptions about not being in control of the services they are using.
Combining a range of service options and more transparency in the way that services are priced provides a simple approach to enhancing the customer roaming experience. However, by extending existing elements of the way that domestic data services are managed, it is possible to extend a familiar home data service usage experience to a roaming data usage experience, thus further assuring the customer with consistency of user experience, regardless of whether they are on their home network or on a visited network. Approaches include the application of policy rules (for quality and usage control), service aware charging (applying differentiated rating/charging based on service type) and pre-paid real-time charging concepts, such as day passes (pre-paid charging applied to post-paid services) for additional usage control.
Improving the user experience is important for all MNOs and MVNOs. The techniques and ideas that have been discussed here deliver an optimum data usage experience for roaming customers, providing them with a broad choice of service and self-care options, including advice of charge, multiple re-charge options, service pack renewal, service upgrades, charging options and usage transparency. All are designed to enhance customers’ usage experience and increase the likeability of the service provider, resulting in sustainable revenues.