Saturday 31 October, 2020

Digicel promises no more 'bill shock' around data usage

[iStock.com/PeopleImages]

[iStock.com/PeopleImages]

‘Bill shock’ is a broad term used to describe the negative response a customer can have to a phone bill that has unexpected charges.

It’s also the reaction Digicel Trinidad and Tobago CEO Jabbor Kayumov is promising to remove from customers’ experience with the telecom.

From Monday 10 February, Digicel customers whose data plans expire will receive a prompt requesting approval on their device to start using pay-as-you-go data.

This is all part of the company’s continued drive to put the customer at the centre of their business operations.  

A sample of the prompt Digicel users will receive on their handset once they are not on an active data plan.

In this instance that translates to more transparency around data usage – namely how your smartphone accesses and uses data and the costs associated with it. 

“We did a lot of major bold moves in Digicel T&T here. One of the first things was when we started revealing everything, being quite transparent with our plans, fair use policy and all those things. Then we did our Christmas campaign and we have been focusing our attention on customer pain points. One of the major pain points we actually discovered was that customers were complaining about losing their credit.” Kayumov said. 

The CEO contextualised some of the challenges customers now face regarding pay-as-you-go charges for data -  the advent and availability of 3G and 4G technology, and consequent migration away from the mainly voice-driven 2G technology, along with the proliferation of smartphones means more and more customers are accessing and using data, sometimes without even realising, it on their devices. 

He elaborated, “With the increase of popularity or penetration of smartphones what we have is apps which consume data on the back end where the customer or owner of that handset is not aware that it does it. You might end up in PayGo data rates which usually, in many countries, is quite expensive and suddenly you discover that you are out of balance or you have the experience of bill shock. You end up calling the operator, the operator is saying, well, this is our plan so you know, you definitely consumed [the data] but as a customer you don't have that experience or you're not happy because you didn't ask for that service.”

“And being a customer-centric company, or at least declaring that we, we identified that  pain point and we tried to think how we can actually fix this issue and protect our customers from that type of negative customer experience. At the end of the game, we don't want that revenue or we don't want that money if our customer did not require that service or was not getting value for that service. We want a kind of win-win kind relationship where our customers are actually getting benefit from everything they are experiencing with us or buying from us.”

Commenting on the long-term benefits they could see arising from this change, Digicel T&T’s Consumer Director Abraham Smith said the company is hoping to improve the relationship and attitude customers have towards data. 

Smith said “It will remove the fear of using mobile data because right now, again from focus groups and interviews and surveys, a lot of people are scared to turn on their data right cause they're afraid of their credit disappearing. So that's the biggest benefit for both parties - we can remove that fear of turning on that mobile data.”

Once the changes take effect, any customer who is not on a data plan and whose phone attempts to access data, will have to deliberately opt in to using pay-as-you-go data or choose to purchase a data plan. 

Pay-as-you-go data costs $1.90 TTD per MB. Digicel’s prepaid plans range from $20 per day plus VAT to $299 per month plus VAT. 

If a customer doesn’t opt for either choice, data to their device will be restricted until they attempt to use data again, at which point they’ll receive another prompt where they can choose how they want to access the service.

For those who remain off of data service, Digicel has ‘zero-rated’ some apps they consider to be an essential service for customers, namely the Loop app for news, the Waze app for navigation and the My Digicel app for managing their account. Wikipedia will also be available to users off of data. The cost of the data used to access these apps won’t be charged to the customer. 

Smith said Digicel has been testing the service with some customers and so far, the response has been very positive. He said customers were notably excited about being included in the process. 

“The biggest piece of feedback is that we worked with customers to create this experience. Customers were very excited that we were getting their input on what their experience was going to be right so I think that's the feedback I'm most proud of.”

Kayumov said the ‘no bill shock’ promise was one he was personally making to customers and invited any subscriber who experiences it with their data usage moving forward, to write to him at @digicelceott on Instagram and he will deal with it immediately. 

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