Simpler Rates, Lower Costs

US jobs data has highlighted how America’s mobile carriers have been cutting jobs whilst revenues have risen; see here. Whilst there is debate about whether jobs have only moved out of telcos into other businesses, some interesting commentary draws a link between customer service and headcount. In short, better service means fewer customer calls means less staff are needed in call centres. If you then factor in the influence of tariff complexity you end up with this conjecture by the editor of FierceWireless:

…carriers also have cut back on the number of call center workers they employ. This trend is most evident at Sprint Nextel, which has pared back its workforce in recent years. The company introduced simpler rate plans, which generally means fewer calls to customer care.

Is there data to support the generalization that simpler rates lead to an enhanced bottom line? Perhaps not, but the prima facie argument is worth considering. It also lends itself to a wholly different, David Leshem-style view on where revenue assurance needs to head. Instead of testing the accuracy of overly complicated bills, RA could analyse drivers for profit and push for bills that are simpler and easier to understand, because simpler bills will be rarely wrong and rarely questioned. This then benefits the bottom line by cutting the costs associated with managing customer dissatisfaction – as well as enhancing the company’s reputation. It would take a brave RA manager to do the math and objectively analyse the data in order to test the supposition. If true, then the RA manager’s job might be next to go. But if the argument is right, can telcos afford the costs of ignoring it? This all comes down to whether RA practitioners will evolve from the kind of money-checkers they usually are, into the kind of value-enhancers that David wants them to be… and if they fail to evolve, whether they might end up extinct.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

1 Comment on "Simpler Rates, Lower Costs"

  1. Lee Scargall Lee Scargall | 3 Aug 2011 at 7:06 am |

    Déjà vu. I was at a CFO forum the other month and this came up in discussion. One CFO was complaining the complexity and number of tariffs launched by the marketing department was generating an inordinate amount of traffic to customer services. He even went down to the call centre to listen in; and claimed that 4 out of 10 calls were just queries about newly launched tariffs. So, when the Head of Customer Services requested an incremental headcount to reduce the call holding times, he was rightly told to filter these calls out via the IVR and redirect the customers to an up to date & well informed website with all the tariffing information. Simple solution, no need for incremental headcount, but rarely implemented around the world.

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