Better billing is vital to reduce churn, deflect costly inbound billing queries, enhance the customer experience and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Yet consumers are far from happy when it comes to billing communications.

Our research has uncovered the main reasons for dissatisfaction among consumers in relation to their phone bills. For service providers billing issues are an expensive problem, with many admitting that over 40% of their inbound call center queries originate as a result of billing or account-related issues.  According to the research, which polled 40 operators and 1,000 phone subscribers, the top ten billing problems encountered by consumers, in no particular order, were:

  1. Bill shock
    We’ve all heard the horror stories of holidaymakers mistakenly leaving mobile data switched on while abroad and coming back to a four-figure bill. The fact of the matter is that bill shock happens in any situation where the bill amount is larger than the person would reasonably expect. Bill shock is still prevalent on a global scale. Issues relating to higher than expected totals and unexpected charges are still the main cause of customer annoyance and subsequent calls to the call center. A staggering 85% of customers will contact their service provider if they receive a higher than expected bill.
  1. Inaccuracy or perceived inaccuracy on bills
    Problems don’t come more obvious than this and it’s no surprise that consumers, who are presented with an inaccurate bill or think their bill is inaccurate, are quick to contact their operator to seek a resolution. One-third of subscribers think their operator simply doesn’t care about individual billing queries.
  1. First bill issues
    The first bill a new customer receives sets the tone for the ongoing relationship, however, what appears on the first bill is typically higher than the marketing campaign price they signed up to. Unexpectedly high first bills can cause confusion, dissatisfaction and can result in that customer leaving their service provider altogether. Over a quarter of respondents (26.2%) have received an unexpected or higher than expected charge on their first month’s bill. To prevent customers from jumping ship, the first bill needs to reflect what the customer actually signed up for.  For example, if there’s pro-rated charges due to signing up mid billing cycle, highlight this clearly and explain the charge.
  1. Jargon
    Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the accuracy of the bill or how the charges are presented but, too often, operator bills contain industry jargon that isn’t clear to customers. For most a megabit is a meaningless metric and other charges can be impenetrable for the user, causing confusion unnecessarily. More than six million survey respondents complained about jargon in their bills.
  1. Poor or unclear presentation
    If the bill isn’t clearly presented in a logical and intuitive way, the consumer can’t be expected to fully understand the breakdown of costs incurred. The survey found that 33 million subscribers want to receive a clearer breakdown of charges.
  1. Inappropriate packages or bundles
    Billing problems arise when customers feel the plan they’ve been sold doesn’t address their needs properly and they’re being charged for things they don’t want or need, such as thousands of unused texts. Customers feel that the bill should explain the value of the bundle allowing them to see if it’s appropriate for them or not. More than 1 in 5 Americans (21%) that own a cell, believe that in the past, when upgrading or changing their service plan, that the bill was confusing and didn’t reflect what they’d signed up to.
  1. Lack of personalization
    Impersonal, cold demands for payment cause customer dissatisfaction. It’s clear that customers expect a personalized billing experience to reflect their individual circumstances.
  1. Lack of Context
    Customers want communications that are tailored to their needs & interests, not ineffective mass communications. There is no place for “spammy” messages, even in billing communications. Service providers need to demonstrate that they understand individual customers and their needs. 20% of phone subscribers would welcome hearing about new offerings specifically related to their mobile use pattern
  1. Slow to deliver in channel of choice
    For a growing sector of the market, namely the millennials, the idea of receiving a printed bill via traditional mail is archaic. One-third of respondents aged 16-24 want easier access to billing info on multiple channels and devices.
  1. Irrelevant upsell
    The bill is an opportunity for an operator to communicate with its customers but intrusive or irrelevant attempts to up-sell and cross-sell additional services should be avoided in order to avoid alienating customers. 20% of respondents would welcome hearing about new offerings specifically related to their mobile usage patterns.

It’s no secret that customers will switch if they are annoyed by billing issues.  The good news is that there is a new and better approach. Better billing communications have the power to strengthen the relationship with your customers. Avoid continuously irritating your customers and instead, deliver billing communications in line with your brand promise, to win their trust, and their business.

For more information on how to transform billing communications contact: