Ofcom introduces text-to-switch for customers

Ofcom introduces text-to-switch for customers UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has introduced new rules that will enable mobile phone customers to obtain their ‘PAC’ number by simply sending a text. The new measures will lower the barrier to switching networks and force telcos to offer a better customer experience.

Ofcom has made sure that ending mobile contracts is not a tedious task anymore. According to new rules put in place by the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, customers can now initiate switching their mobile network providers with a simple text message.
Previously, customers had to haggle with call centres to get their hands on the Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) which was essential to move networks. Now, customers can simply text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to receive the switching code and retain their mobile number. This code will be valid for 30 days, giving customers ample time to complete the porting process. The provider's reply will also contain information about charges and balances. The new operator will be required to complete the switching process in one day.

The decision was taken after increasing customer complaints related to ‘loyalty penalties’, which included difficulties in cancelling contracts or switching service providers. In addition, research by Ofcom revealed that a third of people found it difficult to switch service providers, and among those who considered switching but ended up not doing so, they thought the process time consuming or too much of a hassle.

In addition, Ofcom has also taken steps to ensure that customers do not end up paying both their old and new operators at the same time, a problem that afflicts three in ten customers during the switching period. Ofcom has banned MNOs from charging customers after the switch date which could potentially save customers a collective £10 million per year.

Customer Experience – the missing piece of the telco puzzle?

Just like GDPR did with data privacy and security, it has taken new regulations from Ofcom to shift the focus towards customer experience during the number porting process. For far too long, telcos have been battling churn at the expense of customer experience. As the Ofcom research reveals, loyalty among telco customers arises out of an inertia that exists due to the sheer inconvenience involved in cancelling contracts and switching operators.

The new rules will now force telcos to offer better deals to their customers and foster healthy competition, instead of taking customer loyalty for granted. While most traditional telcos will be disappointed with the new rules, the forward-looking ones will see it as an opportunity to stand out from the competition.

Perhaps it’s time telcos learnt a lesson or two from companies such as Amazon and Netflix? Both companies are obsessively customer-centric, believing in cultivating customer relationships first and generating revenues later. Telcos have garnered a notorious reputation in terms of customer experience. Will these new rules force a rethink?