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Ofcom customer complaints report shows telco operators must prioritise billing during cost of living crisis

Ofcom’s latest telecoms and pay TV complaints report highlights billing as one of the top areas consumers complain about. In the last three months of 2021, the UK’s communications regulator says billing was the most complained-about issue for pay TV customers. Billing also drove around one in five complaints about pay-monthly mobile, landlines and broadband.

This announcement underlines why billing should be top priority for telco operators this year, according to Harry Dougall, CFO at Sagacity. He warns that billing mistakes could have an extremely damaging impact on customers during the current cost of living crisis.

“Billing is one of the most common areas customers complain about. Ofcom has issued fines for mistakenly overcharging customers, billing previous customers, and a range of other issues in recent years but the message still doesn’t seem to be getting through,” said Dougall. “Yet with many customers struggling to make ends meet due to the cost of living crisis, it’s never been more important to ensure these kind of errors do not slip through the net. The Resolution Foundation says we will soon have 16 million UK citizens living in poverty – presenting these people with an unexpected bill could create a lot of worry and stress, maybe even sending some into the red. From a business point of view, making a mis-step with billing during this period risks seriously damaging customer relationships, or even losing them altogether.”

“With so many different channels, bundles and tariffs to keep track of, legacy data siloes and seemingly constant M&A disruption, it’s harder than ever for operators to get a single view of the customer,” he continued. “Unfortunately, this means errors are more frequent than they should be as operators are often unable to link accounts, meaning things fall through the cracks. Yet complexity is no excuse. Billing is foundational. If an operator isn’t getting their bills right, how much can they trust any of their data? So, first, operators need to cleanse their customer database and make it as accurate as possible, so they can identify any linked accounts and offers and bundles that may impact a customer’s bill, or to show if a customer has been mistakenly put on the wrong tariff. By then applying an analytics layer and a value management tool, operators can really get into the strategic level questions – who are my most valuable customers? What is my best performing channel? And so on. By doing so, they can turn billing from a driver for customer complaints, and Ofcom fines, into something that delivers significant strategic advantage.”

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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