Good practices in consumer support01.06.2020
Good practices in India
Source: Screenshot from https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/ncd2016/microsite/.
The consumer support arrangements in India are extensive, varied by both sector and region, and provide an example of best practice. They are being continuously developed. As a huge country, selected parts of their arrangements may fit the needs of smaller countries.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ portal website draws attention to alternative ways for consumers to get support. As well as browsing and registering on the website, they can:
- make a free phone call (to a short code or a full national number);
- send a text asking for a return call (using a long code);
- use the online chat facility;
- download and use a selection of apps;
- phone or visit their own District Consumer Forum, if one is convenient (more than 600 of these are listed).
One route through the portal is the Knowledge Base. This is presented via 31 FAQ links, labelled alphabetically from Aaadhar (India’s digital identity system), via Misleading Advertisements, to Water Sector. The following topics might be of particular interest to the digital consumer:
- Broadband and Internet
- Digital Payment
- DTH/DAS (cable TV)
- Right to Information
Each FAQ section leads on to more detailed information on the topic in question. Digital Payments also gets its own section on the overall home page, with links to different digital payment providers. Another route through the portal is via a page of “Important Links”, which are mainly sectoral regulators.
The main takeaways from this resource are the importance of:
- catering for a variety of contact preferences;
- offering materials in consumers’ own languages;
- providing easy-to-use educational media, for example short videos and cartoons featuring important messages;
- keeping each user interface simple, allowing for complexity through layering the information; and
- keeping it current, with front-page coverage of the latest issues.
Good practices in Malaysia
Source: Screenshot from http://www.consumerinfo.my/how-artificial-intelligence-ai-in-smartphones-will-change-your-life-in-the-future/.
Consumers of digital services in Malaysia have dedicated support from the Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum set up by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). This in turn leads on to the digital consumer information website, consumerinfo.my, a screenshot from which appears above.
The Consumer Forum itself has broader functions than consumer support. While supported by MCMC, it is a membership body with members from both the industry and consumer organizations, and its intentions include developing and administering self-regulatory codes of practice. However, it is already prominent in consumer education and complaints handling. It publishes a magazine containing readable articles on topical matters, and communicates using a range of social media. Its main publicity brochure is published in Malay, Chinese, and English versions.
The main takeaways from this resource are:
- A consumer-facing website does not have to centre on complaints – it can provide useful information on the latest developments and stimulate use as well as awareness, while still facilitating complaints. This sort of presentation can make it a livelier experience for consumers, as well as appealing more to industry participants who may then offer support.
- “Buying guides” can target certain market segments, and need not be comprehensive to be useful.
Good practices in Brazil
Source: screenshot from https://www.anatel.gov.br/consumidor/.
The regulator in Brazil has a lively consumer-facing part of its website, from which the screenshot above is taken. The content is all in Portuguese. Points of note include:
- A page of audio resources providing advice on various topics, each lasting about a minute, which can be streamed or downloaded.
- A free online course in consumer rights (hosted by the ITU Academy) – enrolment is open to all.
Good practices in Ireland
Source: screenshot from https://www.comreg.ie/consumer-information/consumer-videos/.
Comreg, the communications regulator in Ireland, has a dedicated consumer website. Highlighted content includes:
- Short videos on current topics, for example, the one illustrated above explains in clear, simple language various factors which can affect the quality of mobile coverage.
- A coverage map (based on information provided by the mobile operators) showing outdoor mobile coverage for each operator all over Ireland.
- A page about how premium rate services are regulated and how consumers can control their use.
- Tariff comparison software enabling consumers to see all, or just selected, available packages for fixed, mobile, broadband. and TV services (with or without inputting their own usage patterns).