Plan.com says that at the beginning of October, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, brought in a small regulatory change that had a significant impact on the mobile industry.
From 1st October, customers taking out new or renewing existing contracts can request a Spending Cap. Spending Caps limit the amount of additional charges that customers may face above their fixed, monthly tariff.
Additional charges are incurred when a service is used while roaming, makes calls or sends texts to premium-rate or international numbers, or uses data in excess of its pre-agreed monetary limit.
On the surface of it, this is an obvious win for customers. Spending Caps prevent bill shock: unexpected monthly bills that may arise when a service is used in an extraordinary way.
But every rose has its thorn. Capping costs means restricting a service. For some customers, this is an inconvenience. However, in the business mobile market, having employees fall offline or become uncontactable is a daunting prospect when a company’s livelihood depends on reliable and consistent connectivity.
The biggest impact that this regulatory change is having is among airtime providers – the companies supplying the mobile services. Capping spending is a huge technical undertaking that impacts every aspect of the services they provide.
Additional charges can be incurred in a number of ways and airtime distributors are now being asked to control the whole spectrum of their constantly evolving telephonic and digital services.
This means that for most service providers, the new regulations have a huge cost implication as they have forced large-scale revisions of technical infrastructure, business processes and cashflow.
From challenge to opportunity
As a business communications provider, plan.com works alongside hundreds of Partners whose customers have complex communication requirements. Business customers need full control over their bills, but they also need a level of flexibility that allows them to control their services and keep them connected.
In short, business customers need to be protected but empowered. Ensuring both requires the application of sophisticated technology, which is something plan.com has developed a strong reputation for over its four-year history.
In response to the new spending caps, the company has launched a self-service platform that alerts its customers whenever a spending cap is reached, but also gives them the tools to increase the cap and remove the restrictions, or add bolt-ons that extend their service to prevent it from being restricted.
Co-Founder of plan.com, Keith Curran (pictured) said: “We do things differently at plan.com and we’ve responded to the Ofcom regulations by doing what we always do: transforming a challenge into an opportunity.
“We’ve simplified very complex regulations and delivered a cutting-edge tech solution that takes self-service to the next level.
“We call them Captive Pages and they provide our Partners and Customers with more flexibility, more immediacy and more intuitive technology than ever before.”
The recently launched service-specific web pages, which are triggered automatically or via SMS when a spending cap is reached and a service becomes restricted, give customers the option to increase their Spending Cap and purchase bolt-ons at the click of a button.
All plan.com customers with Spending Caps, or any other type of bar linked with their service, will now benefit from these Captive Pages; there’s no need to download an app and no need to play with settings.
Hundreds of Captive Pages were triggered during their launch in October, informing customers and preventing additional charges against their accounts. The results speak for themselves: thirty-eight percent of people who received Captive Pages opted to extend their spending caps and seventeen percent added a bolt-on.
This is a good news story for Partners: business mobile experts who work with customers to get the best deal and offer the best level or tailored service. It means that these actions, which would previously have meant a phone call to customer services or a series of emails, were dealt with instantly and effectively by the customer.
Better still, there’s no bill shock at the end of the month because the customer controls every limit increase and is alerted before they reach the new limit, as well as when a limit is met.
“Everything we do ¬– our tech, services, products and support – is driven by the needs of our Partners and Customers,” said Keith Curran.
“Captive Pages are no exception. We’ve set the bar extremely high and put even more control directly into customers’ hands, as well as the hands of the Partners who support them.”