Wednesday, 25 November 2015 00:55

ACMA advises telco industry on consumer mobile spending


An ACMA-commissioned Newspoll survey from February contains ‘some valuable insights for industry in the design of mobile products and the delivery of spend management alerts.

ACMA, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has compiled a list of ‘five messages’ for the Australian mobile industry on ‘consumer mobile spending.’

Although it is already November 2015, ACMA points to a Newspoll survey it conducted in February 2015 which nationally surveyed 1735 Australian adults, including 1,020 post-paid mobile phone bill payers, ‘to explore the consumer experience.’

ACMA says ‘the survey looked at consumer awareness and usage of spend management tools and alerts as well as the incidence of unexpectedly high bills. The research followed the introduction of spend management alerts (from September 2013), and are also known as ‘usage notifications’ that are typically sent to customers by SMS.’

Findings include:

Some consumers are still on the wrong plan

  • 35% of people who considered themselves ‘light-data’ users have a surprisingly large data allowance of over 1 GB. Of this population, more than half have an allowance of over 2 GB.
  • 8% of people who considered themselves ‘heavy-data’ users have quite a low data allowance of 1 GB or less.
  • The research showed that 81% of consumers intended to select a plan that was high enough to reflect actual data usage, helping to avoid exceeding their limit. To help consumers better estimate usage and select appropriate plans, the telecommunications industry needs to develop better tools and resources that are accessible and easy-to-understand.

Consumers are restricting rather than freely using their mobiles

  • Over 80% of consumers don’t use or restrict elements of their mobile usage to avoid high bills.
  • 49% of restrict data and call usage.
  • 20% don’t use data or restrict their data usage.
  • 14% restrict call usage.

Real-time and easy to understand spend management information (alerts as well as meters and apps etc) and/or industry education of consumers give consumers more confidence to use their service more and also build brand loyalty.

Article continues below, please read on:

Some consumers plan, some make adjustments

  • In the last 12 months, 85% of consumers who did not receive an unexpectedly high bill had a mobile data plan adequate for their usage levels.
  • 46% of consumers who did receive an unexpectedly high bill had to buy extra data.
  • Helping consumers to pick the right plan may assist in avoiding bill shock and build brand loyalty.

Voice calls still a cause of bill shock

  • 19% of consumers who had a bill 1.5 times their normal bill attributed it to phone calls within Australia.
  • 21% who had a bill triple (or more) their usual bill attributed it to phone calls.
  • There still remains a significant number of consumers who experience unexpectedly high bills due to voice calls, across all sizes of bills. While many post-paid plans now include unlimited national voice calls, there’s an opportunity for providers to expand the range of products with unlimited calls to attract these customers.

Some consumers aren’t receiving alerts, or are ignoring them

  • In the last 12 months, 67% of consumers reported having received an SMS spend management alert.
  • In the last 12 months, 47% of those who have experienced an unexpectedly high bill did not receive, or did not recall receiving, a 100% ‘call alert’.
  • From these survey results, it’s clear that there is room for further improvement on making customers aware of spend management alerts.

ACMA asks telcos ‘how do your customers match up?’

ACMA advises that telcos can read the Spend management tools and alerts—Tracking consumer outcomes of the Reconnecting the Customer inquiry research report or check out ACMA’s infographic for highlights of the report.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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