Experience Designer

Telstra PrePaid

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Telstra Pre-Paid

Research & Strategy

Team: 2 UX Designers and 2 Product Owners

This project was conducted over 3 design sprints (6 weeks), to identify the main problems and issues faced by Telstra and Boost Pre-Paid customers. With a focus on mobile data usage information and recharging, we interviewed front line staff, leveraged data, business insights and customer feedback to pinpoint areas and opportunities for future development.

Defining the problem

Talking to the front line

First we wanted find out what Pre-Paid customers contact Telstra about, when and why. To kick things off, we analysed key call drivers and customer verbatim from surveys. We then interviewed call centre agents, chat centre agents, and customer service and sales reps from Telstra stores, to get more detail on the scenarios that cause issues for customers. From here we identified themes and compared these to the call data we had around recharge and usage. It was clear that recharge and usage would be two key areas of focus.

For [customers] to trust us, they’re testing us to see if we can really see their usage, and what’s using their data. When we can’t tell them that detailed information they dispute it.
— Call Centre Representative

Recharge experience

Recharge is the at the heart of the Pre-Paid experience, with customers adding credit every month to renew or continue their service. In some cases data rollover is contingent on recharging in time (before expiry). The information and functionality of recharge is critical in determining how and when customers choose to engage with Telstra. Multiple recharge channels and unclear information prior to, during and after recharge, all contribute to large call volumes and highlight opportunities to improve the experience.

  • Recharge enquiries generate 150k calls per annum

  • 97% of recharge call volumes are driven by voucher and credit card

  • 14% of recharge requests online result in a failure

Usage experience

As Pre-Paid plans generally have a lower mobile data allowance compared to monthly Post-Paid plans, data usage is a key area of focus for this customer segment. One of the clearest needs of Pre-Paid users is the ability to access up-to-date and reliable usage information. The disparity of valuable usage information in existing channels means customers are not provided with usage information that is timely and meaningful and as a result Telstra sees a large number of customers contacting the company with enquiries and disputes.

  • Usage enquiries generate 600k calls per annum

  • Within 15 days of a usage request the biggest call driver is charging disputes (33%)


How might we better support Pre-Paid customers? 

After talking to customer service agents and identifying key areas of focus, we surveyed the same agents on the desirability of and prioritisation of example features looking to address some of the issues relating to recharge and usage.

“Out of the following features, which would be the most important for supporting Pre-Paid customers?”

Agent responses to the survey indicated recharge errors, disputes and plan comparisons generate substantial call volumes

Agent responses to the survey indicated recharge errors, disputes and plan comparisons generate substantial call volumes

Current state issues

Through interviews with call centre staff, store consultants and analysis of customer survey verbatim, we identified 4 key problem areas: 


1. Lack of detail

Currently there is a gap between customers’ expectations and the relevance, accuracy or usefulness of information available to them. Customers are presented with ‘a wall of information’ which can be overwhelming and hard to comprehend. For example, at times a customer can have up to 5 data bundles with different consumption rules and expiries. Customers need and expect access to a certain level of detail around usage, which is not being provided.


 2. Burden of Effort

Pre-Paid customers are often faced with inconsistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. This burden of effort is also clearly illustrated by the 4 days till expiry notification, where customers tend to set their own reminders to recharge on time. Moreover, distrust of core functionality such as the existing automatic recharge, and incomplete information means customers are often faced with disjointed experiences that don’t meet their needs.


 3. Unmet Expectations

While customers may not call Telstra with the intention to dispute, the conversation can sometimes escalate when they don’t have the transparency or the understanding they need. Pre-Paid customers are often not wholly aware of their Plan construct and the implications of their recharge. As a result, there are times where customer expectations are out of sync with the reality of their service. This expectations gap leads to disputes, complaints and in some instances credits or refunds provided.


 4. Untailored experience

The current Pre-Paid self-service experience is not tailored to the customer, their plan, or their recharge lifecycle. A ‘one design fits all’ approach has led to confusion and misinterpretation. The lack of a tailored experience drives customers to the call centre. They don’t always trust information provided by Telstra, as they don't have visibility of the same data in the 24x7 app or My Account.


We believe that customers don’t have the detail they need to confidently manage their pre-paid accounts,

So if we communicate effectively to inform customers and prevent issues before they arise,

We will see a reduction in the number of calls and complaints around recharge and usage.

Future state foundations

The following design principles looked to address each of the problems areas identified.


1. Show me what counts

As price and data sensitive users, Pre-Paid customers need to access up-to-date and reliable usage information. Data and inclusions should be presented simply and meaningfully. For example, data bar charts help customers (more than written numbers) to understand their data in relation to their expiry and make informed decisions around additional data and recharging. Concepts relating to this design principle look to address the lack of detail in Telstra’s channels. 


2. Make things easy

Pre-Paid customers want light-touch experiences that simply work. They choose Pre-Paid because they value the simplicity and low commitment of the product. Customers rightly expect that managing a Pre-Paid service will also be simple and straightforward. As a result, it is essential to provide simple and seamless experiences that reduce the effort associated with managing a service. Concepts relating to this design principle look to address the burden of effort of customers.


3. Tell the story

Often Pre-Paid customers are not wholly aware of the details and limitations of their plan inclusions and balances. Because of this, there is a need to manage expectations by ’telling the story’ especially when critical events of the Pre-Paid lifecycle; such as recharging, buying additional data and expiry, effectively any change to a customer’s service. Concepts relating to this design principle look to address the unmet expectations of customers.


4. Tailor to me

Pre-Paid customers expect Telstra to know them and their habits. To keep customers informed and in control, service channels should be tailored to the customer’s plan, and personalised to the relevant point in the recharge cycle. Concepts relating to this design principle look to address the untailored experience in existing channels

The new Pre-Paid

We designed and tested different features and solutions to address the pain points identified in sprint 1. Over 2 more sprints we refined and re-tested these concepts over 2 rounds of usability testing with Telstra and non-Telstra Pre-Paid mobile customers.

In the final strategy we presented 12 recommended features for development or further exploration. Here are some highlights.

1. Total data snapshot

A simple snapshot view so that customers can see what’s important at a glance.

When we explain usage to a customer, it’s not transparent to them and they don’t believe it.
— Call centre agent, on current display of usage
Total data snapshot

Total data snapshot

Key metrics

In 2017, Telstra received 600k calls per year from Pre-Paid customers who want to enquire or dispute their usage. Front line interviews indicated that multiple data bundles with different expiries cause confusion for some customers.


Pre-Paid customers currently do not have a simple visual representation of their data. At times, customers are faced with two to five different data bundles that may have different constraints and consumption rules.
Every time a customer self-serves with us they need to create a mental model of how their data is combined and consumed.


Total Data Snapshot brings all of a customer’s data bundles into a single easy to read visual. Customers can easily compare their data to their expiry so that they can make informed decisions on what to do next.

2. Schedule a recharge

Future dated and recurring recharge options to suit different customer needs.

There’s instances where the customer auto recharge fails and they aren’t notified.
— Telstra Store Consultant
Schedule a recharge

Schedule a recharge

Key metrics

At the time of this research, only 2% of Telstra customers and 8% of Boost customers had automatic recharge set up. 5 of 5 testing participants indicated that they would schedule a recharge for expiry.


‘Set and forget’ resonates with customers, however, front line interviews indicated that customers find the current Automatic Recharge constructs confusing, and don’t trust them to work. Pre-paid customers are also often reluctant to recharge before expiry due to ‘losing days’ of credit. The current experience has historically resulted in low adoption rates across both Telstra and Boost.


Schedule a Recharge enables customers to remain in control of their recharge. The option to ‘recharge at expiry’ gives customers piece of mind that they won’t miss out on roll over, promotes recharging before expiry, and encourages customers to adopt a recurring recharge.

3. Recharge in context

A contextual and visual recharge experience so that customers are confident of what will happen.

They usually ask what does my $30 buy me or what does my $40 give me and how long can I use it for.
— Telstra Store Consultant
Recharge in context

Recharge in context

Key metrics

Within 24 hours of a recharge attempt 2,511 customers contact Telstra with an enquiry. The call centre indicated that rollover was a key driver for data and charging disputes.


Recharge is the core of the Pre-Paid experience. When Pre-Paid customers recharge they do not receive a contextual experience that tailors recharge to show what their new balances will be.


Contextual Recharge consolidates multiple recharge price points into a single easy to read view. It visually illustrates all aspects of their new balance including rollover.

It also shows the value of recharging at a higher price point so customers are able to make a more informed choice.

4. High usage alert

Contextual alerts explain high usage to customers and provides ways to minimise it in the future.

High usage alert

High usage alert

Key Metrics

Customer service indicated that there are instances when customers call and don’t understand how their data was consumed. 4 of 5 testing participants found this feature useful.


Pre-Paid customers tend to have smaller data allowances, but have no way of self-diagnosing unexpected usage, so only find out in retrospect when data has been used up.

Some customers also lack knowledge about apps that use their data, including background consumption. Unusual data consumption often requires investigation by the customer and can drive calls to the call centre.


High Usage Alerts inform customers of unusual or high usage and provides ways to minimise it, by educating customers and encouraging them to take charge of their data consumption through self management.

That’s really good. I really like that. You’ve shown me how to limit the usage. I wouldn’t need to call anybody at all.
— Telstra Pre-Paid Customer and Test Participant

By making the online experience convenient, easy to use and informative, Telstra Pre-Paid customers can be better supported to recharge, manage their usage and self-serve online. Fostering agency and providing next best actions in context empowers Pre-Paid customers to handle their mobile needs, without having to head to a store or wait on the phone.