On demand roaming in the digital age
International mobile roaming and more specifically, data roaming, has witnessed major changes in terms of regulation, pricing, offers and overall customer experience in recent years.
Several recent instances of bill shock, a known barrier to customer adoption, have led to some countries taking steps to regulate services and provide consumers with more information about their spending, says Bobby Srinivasan of Mobileum.
Even with this safety net in place, high costs still prevent the wide scale use of data roaming. To combat this, proactive communication service providers (CSPs) have begun offering competitively priced data bundles and specific Roam Like Home (RLH) plans to entice more subscribers to use data roaming.
RLH plans consist of an integrated roaming package that combines voice, text and data. Subscribers can use their quota domestically and overseas in certain frequently visited countries. It is a step in the right direction but there is still more that can be done by the industry to boost adoption.
RLH plans address the problem of exorbitant bills but don’t offer value-adds to the broader roaming user segment; such as dynamic enablement, quota sharing across devices, or enabling subscribers to sign up to a roaming package when already overseas.
The globalisation of business, tourism, education and healthcare continues to drive subscriber interest in travel. With the increasing prevalence of digital experiences, discerning travelers now demand hassle-free connectivity on demand from the moment they land overseas.
Insights show that these new digitally minded travellers like to be informed in real-time about available offers that help them to stay in control of their usage and manage their services though dynamic self-care menus. They even have clear preferences when it comes to the use of self-care channels such as web, app, text or USSD menus which are based on both purpose and context.
Research shows that roaming and mobile data usage is expected to continue increasing in line with the growth of tablets, smartphones and LTE networks. It is now common for subscribers to carry more than one device when roaming, that might even use multiple services which are voice and data capable but have very different bundle requirements.
Managing multiple roaming plans and contracts, often with their own complex processes, is proving to be the main deterrent for users. CSPs who want to entice more customers need to illustrate how they will facilitate customer savings without layers of difficulty, for example, by offering flexible and configurable plans that allow subscribers to allocate quota across devices, at will and via self-service options.
Based on a common product catalogue and facilitated through multiple digital channels, on-demand roaming offers this and more. We live in an age where the phenomenon of digitisation is altering processes and introducing new business models, exemplified by the emergence of larger evolutionary leaps and shorter innovation intervals.
Getting customers to first discover and then use services while building customer loyalty is particularly challenging in the digital age. This age marks the end of the “one size fits all” approach and requires the CSP to embrace individualisation and dynamic segmentation, all the way down to the segment of one!
CSPs have been key enablers in the digital revolution that continues to impact a diverse range of industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, transportation and more. However, most CSPs haven’t yet adapted their own processes, including international mobile roaming, for the digital world and many lack the agility needed to be competitive.
On-demand roaming could be the next killer concept in roaming, if supported through multiple digital self-care channels. Research shows that the functionality most desired by customers includes easy discovery, a user-friendly product catalogue, managed service lifecycle, usage information, real-time contextual offers, quota refills and upsell add-ons based on dynamic segmentation.
Offering quota refill and on-demand roaming add-ons could even help CSPs develop new revenue streams through cross selling, sponsored data partnerships and rewards which also encourage further usage and utilise the type of reciprocal relationships that characterise the digital age.
Executed well, on-demand roaming platforms will enable CSPs to design, define and deliver an individualised, digital roaming experience with ease through simple workflow and with minimal impact to existing billing, operational and other IT systems.
The author of this blog is Bobby Srinivasan, CEO of Mobileum. Mobileum is a provider of analytics, mobility and value added services space.
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