Clear customer communications needed when price is concerned

When AT&T announced changes to its data usage plans this week, analysts heralded it as "positive for the entire communications industry, as data usage will continue to grow." But customers weren't as happy with the changes, venting on Twitter and blogs about the possible increase in costs and the uncertainty of how much data they actually use.

When AT&T announced changes to its data usage plans this week, analysts heralded it as "positive for the entire communications industry, as data usage will continue to grow." But customers weren't as happy with the changes, venting on Twitter and blogs about the possible increase in costs and the uncertainty of how much data they actually use.

AT&T dropped its unlimited data plans, and will charge users $15 if they use less than 200 megabytes of data a month, half of the $30 fee for unlimited usage now.

Having an unlimited plan gives customers more freedom and peace of mind. And some marketers worry that consumers will think twice before downloading an app or using a service so they don't go over their allotted space. But AT&T reported that 65% of its smart phone customers use less than 200 megabytes of data a month. This means a majority of users would actually save money with the changes, but consumers and the media are still confused. AT&T needs to clearly explain to consumers how much their plans and bills would change.

One blogger wrote that AT&T has a usage calculator on its website, where customers can determine their approximate amount of data usage each month – but he had to search to find it.

AT&T, and any other phone company that decides to adopt this sort of pricing plan, needs to focus on communicating with customers specifically about what will change when making an announcement like this. Media and analyst relations are always key elements of any major announcement from a company, but it is important not to forget that it is the customers that will have the most questions and will be the ones buying—and hopefully recommending—your product.

With social media, it's easier than ever to interact directly with customers and answer their questions. This is what AT&T should be concentrating on, and if their transition is smooth, perhaps other phone companies will follow suit.

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