WO2002095636A1 - Method and apparatus for demographic payment comparison and alternative service offer system - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for demographic payment comparison and alternative service offer system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002095636A1
WO2002095636A1 PCT/AU2002/000658 AU0200658W WO02095636A1 WO 2002095636 A1 WO2002095636 A1 WO 2002095636A1 AU 0200658 W AU0200658 W AU 0200658W WO 02095636 A1 WO02095636 A1 WO 02095636A1
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Prior art keywords
customer
data
system
method
plurality
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PCT/AU2002/000658
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French (fr)
Inventor
Walter John Adamson
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Walter John Adamson
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Priority to AU48074/01A priority Critical patent/AU4807401A/en
Priority to AU48074/01 priority
Application filed by Walter John Adamson filed Critical Walter John Adamson
Publication of WO2002095636A1 publication Critical patent/WO2002095636A1/en

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

A system and method for comparative expenditure reporting includes an apparatus including a database store containing a plurality of payment records for a plurality of customers and associated demographic data about those customers and their service providers. The method calculates average payments for customers for similar classes of services and provides comparison reports across the customers as sorted and selected by demographic keys. A reporting means to a particular customer is provided allowing customers to compare their expenditures to anonymous averages for similar demographic groups for the same type of service, for example comparison of household insurance by postcode. Further, means are provided to obtain recommendations and solicitations from alternative service providers based upon the former comparative data and other information held within the system.

Description

Method and apparatus for demographic payment comparison and alternative service offer system Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a computer-based system and to a method for making anonymous comparisons of payments for services, and to a system and method for soliciting alternative service offers.

Description of the Prior Art

It is known to use central bill paying services to pay a plurality of service providers, by telephone or Internet means. It is also known for certain service providers to provide a customer with comparative data of the customer's payment for a current period against one or more payments by that customer for previous periods. Such comparisons are for one customer, comparing the payments of that user across different billing periods or seasons. Any discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles or the like which has been included in the present specification is solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not to be taken as an admission that any or all of these matters form part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed before the priority date of each claim of this application.

Throughout this specification the word "comprise", or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps, but not the exclusion of any other element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps.

Summary of the Invention

According to a first aspect, the present invention provides a system for providing to a first customer anonymous demographic statistical data based on transactions of a plurality of customers for a particular service, the system comprising: means for recording transaction data of the transactions of the plurality of customers, the transaction data comprising at least account transaction data and customer demographic data representing demographic characteristics of the respective customer; means for retrieving recorded transaction data of a particular demographic subset of said plurality of customers; means for determining anonymous statistical data of the retrieved transaction data of the particular demographic subset, wherein said anonymous statistical data does not include the identity of any one of said plurality of customers; and means for providing said determined anonymous statistical data to said first customer.

According to a second aspect the present invention provides a method for providing to a first customer anonymous demographic statistical data based on transactions of a plurality of customers for a particular service, the method comprising the steps of: recording transaction data of the transactions of the plurality of customers, the transaction data comprising at least account transaction data and customer demographic data representing demographic characteristics of the respective customer; retrieving recorded transaction data of a particular demographic subset of said plurality of customers; determining anonymous statistical data of the retrieved transaction data of the particular demographic subset, wherein said anonymous statistical data does not include the identity of any one of said plurality of customers; and providing said determined anonymous statistical data to said first customer.

In embodiments of the present invention, the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided may comprise a telephone service whether fixed or mobile, a gas provision service, an electricity provision service, or an insurance service. The system and method of the present invention may store transaction data in respect of more than one service.

In embodiments of the present invention, the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers may comprise one or more of the following: a billing amount for a most recent billing period; a billing amount for each of a plurality of billing periods; a plurality of billing components in respect of differing billing categories of a single billing amount; payment terms; contractual terms; and the identity of the service provider.

By recording such account transaction data, the present invention enables detailed statistical data to be provided to the first customer. For instance, where the first customer is interested in an average billing amount in a most recent billing period, such as a preceding quarter, the present invention enables retrieval of that particular type of account transaction data for determination of the required statistical information for the first customer. As another example, where a customer wishes to compare characteristics of service providers, such as relative costs, the recorded account transaction data can distinguish between service providers in providing the statistical data to the first customer.

Similarly, in embodiments of the invention the customer demographic data may comprise one or more of the following: customer age information, whether specific in providing an actual age in years or days of a customer, or indicative in providing an age bracket in which the customer's age falls; customer gender information; customer income information; customer marital status; customer family size; and customer address, suburb or postal area.

Again, by recording such customer demographic data, the present invention enables the anonymous statistical data to be prepared on the basis of one or more such demographic subsets of the plurality of customers. For example, the first customer may be a member of a particular demographic group and may require statistical data representative of that demographic group only. Thus, embodiments of the present invention may enable a 70 year old resident in a one-person household in a particular postal area to compare their costs in respect of a particular service, for example an electricity service, with the costs of other members of the same demographic subset, whether those other members have the same electricity service provider or not.

The customer demographic data may also comprise the identity of one or more of the plurality of customers, however in accordance with the invention such information would not be provided to the first customer. Typically, the transactions of the plurality of customers upon which the demographic statistical data is based will be transactions which have occurred in the past, however it can be envisaged that pre-arranged transactions which will not take place or be concluded until some time in the future may also be used in determining the demographic statistical data. For instance, statistical data relating to mobile telephone contracts or "plans" which extend into the future may be useful to the first customer when considering whether or not to enter into such a contract themselves.

Embodiments of the invention are advantageous in that it has not been previously known in bill paying services to have a means for accumulation of data regarding the tabulation of transaction amounts for a particular service against demographic data, such as postcode or number of adults in the residence. Therefore a customer has been unable to obtain comparisons or recommendations in respect of such bill paying services. Embodiments of the invention may thus provide such comparisons and ratings, allowing more active consumer choice and potential economic benefits. This is particularly important where alternative service providers are available from which customers may choose a similar service.

In addition to providing statistical data, preferred embodiments of the invention further provide some advice as to possible courses of action based on the comparison data for each customer. For example, such embodiments of the invention may provide a recommendation for a consultation with an independent expert in the field of a particular service. Embodiments of the invention may provide a recommendation to contact the service provider. Further, some embodiments of the invention may provide the customer with a query as to whether they would be part of a survey group about their purchasing and usage habits of a particular class or classes of service.

Embodiments of the invention may carry out a comparison of statistical average costs of alternate service providers and present the first customer with a choice of alternate service providers, for instance where those service providers are less costly. Such embodiments may further provide for automated completion of a change in service provider if the customer indicates they will change to the cheapest alternative service provider.

The invention requires recording transaction data, as the basis for statistical analysis. Such data may be obtained from other pre-existing records, such as electronic payment systems such as BPAY in Australia. It may be advantageous to service providers utilising such pre-existing records to provide the data from such records to a system or method in accordance with the present invention, as such data may assist customers of that service provider to compare and to choose that service provider's service if they best meet that customer's requirements, whether by being most cost-effective or otherwise. Furthermore, service providers which elect not to participate may be seen to be unwilling to be compared, which may be seen as a negative from a consumer's perspective, and thus turn consumers away from that service provider.

Alternatively, effective data records may be obtained by other methods, such as by market survey. Thus, while obtaining data from existing records of cooperating billing systems may prove to be important in facilitating some embodiments of the present invention, they are not essential to the invention.

It is advantageous to allow customers to compare expenditure for various utilities and other services such as insurance for the purpose of evaluating their best options in respect of each such service they themselves require. This is more advantageous where utilities such as gas and electricity are provided competitively whereas in a previous era such services were often monopolies.

Thus, the present invention may provide economic benefit to customers by showing comparisons of their expenses as compared to others in similar demographic categories. In particular embodiments of the invention, alternative service providers for services may be provided as requested by the users of the system for their types of service and in their demographic segments. These features are desirable in order to provide economic benefit to users of the invention.

The present invention provides anonymous statistics, such as averages, of bills for particular classes of services and demographic categories. By comparing the payments of an individual customer against these anonymous statistics, and making the statistical data available to clients, an individual customer can make informed rational economic choices using data that has previously been unavailable. The individual customer may be an individual, another system or a group of customers of similar needs.

Preferably the invention comprises a database of records representing customer payments across as wide a range of services as possible. Further, within one class of service, the records preferably identify and distinguish between as wide a range of service providers as possible. Where adequate volume of records, and diversity of services and service providers exists, the invention will perform to particular advantage. Preferred embodiments of the invention also recommend alternative service offers if a client or group appears to be paying too much compared to the demographic averages according to parameters determined within an embodiment of the invention.

Further, some embodiments of the invention may provide for enlarging a demographic subset defined by a customer, if insufficient data records exist for the defined subset to enable a statistical approach to be sufficiently accurate. For example, where a user specifies a particular suburb against which they would like to compare their own account transactions, should there be insufficient data to obtain an acceptable sample size of persons in that suburb, embodiments of the present invention allow for expansion of the physical area from which records are retrieved, for example to include all neighbouring suburbs, in order to enlarge the sample size and thus produce more accurate statistical data for the customer, albeit from a wider area than requested.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Examples of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a general schematic illustrating the components of an apparatus in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2A is a general logic diagram illustrating one embodiment of the invention, and links with external systems;

Figure 2B is illustrates an in which the system and method of the present invention is implemented in an application program of a computing means;

Figure 3 is a flow chart illustrating a process by which payment records are entered into the database store;

Figure 4 is flow chart illustrating a request comparison from a customer to a system in accordance with the present invention; Figure 5 is a schematic illustrating a plurality of alternate service providers in respect of each of a plurality of services;

Figure 6 is a schematic illustration of a web-browser screen displaying illustrative inputs for a customer to request a payment comparison report;

Figure 7 is a schematic view of a web-browser screen displaying illustrative results of a payment comparison request; Figure 8 is a schematic view of a web-browser screen displaying illustrative inputs for requesting an alternative service offer;

Figure 9 is a schematic view of a web-browser displaying illustrative results of an alternative service offer request; and Figures 10A, 10B and 10C are, respectively, schematics of a customer details database store, a demographic details database store, and a service provider database store in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments The described embodiments of the present invention include a computer program which resides in a network accessible to customers. Although the present invention will be described with reference to certain specific embodiments of a computer program which resides in a network accessible to customers, the program including data structures, processes and the like, it is to be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the specific details disclosed herein for the purpose of providing an understanding of the present invention do not limit its scope.

The present invention provides a method and an apparatus for comparing customer expenditure data classified according to demographic categories. The system shown in the Figures stores database records of payments made to service providers along with demographic information such as postal code, number of people in a household, and age of the principals associated with the payment, as well as details of the service provider and period for which the payment is made. Further, the system solicits alternative service offers where the customer seeks a cheaper or better service.

When a customer wants to benefit from the present invention, the invention takes an inquiry that specifies the type of service and the associated data for which a comparison report is required. This may be for a gas service, for a home insurance service, for motor vehicle insurance, for electricity service etc. For each type of service characterising data is submitted, such as the period of the last gas bill and the amount, or the type of motor vehicle and the amount paid for insurance, and the demographic characterisation of the household. It is to be understood that the customer may be an individual, a company, or even a peer service provider. Figure 1 shows a system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention in which the components are assembled in a single computing apparatus 100 which may be a server-side system or a web service. Other systems communicate with this system through the input interface device 110, and output interface device 120, and these communications may be directly through application programming interfaces or via common networking facilities including the Internet.

The invention contains a database store 160, which in an exemplary form can be a relational database and management system. This database store 160 is the prime repository of the payment and demographic records which provide the data for the underlying analysis performed by the present embodiment of the invention.

Figure 2 shows the computing apparatus 100 of Figure 1 , with illustrative links from the apparatus 100 to other systems. The systems include one or more payment systems 210 for the provision of payment records to the database store 160 of the apparatus 100. The apparatus is further linked to one or more service providers 220 for the purpose of obtaining alternative offers, and is linked to web servers 230 and web browsers 240 for the purpose of communicating with customers who wish to use the system 100 of the present invention. For illustrative purposes in Figure 2 such links are shown passing through a network 250, but some of these links may be through program interfaces and other program-to-program interfaces using such technologies as SOAP and XML.

As a further example, in Figure 2B the apparatus 100 is closely coupled to a third-party application 270 through an application program interface 260, and also linked through the embedded applications to payment systems 210 and service providers 220. This is to illustrate that the invention may be embodied in a number of forms and be integrated into the service offerings of third parties as by licensing or on other commercial terms and conditions.

Initially, the database store 160 is loaded with records suitable for later analysis. Figure 3 shows the receipt of payment records 300 and their loading into the database store 160. For example, the system may access and retrieve such payment records from other pre-existing records of service providers with whom payments are made. In Australia, for illustration, these could include BPAY, the Banks, automated Credit Union systems and others. In such an embodiment, such records are loaded initially and then refreshed periodically in order to maintain the currency of the database store within the apparatus. Subsequently, the invention retrieves relevant stored records from its database store 160 and calculates comparative payment statistics and reports these back to the customer in response to a query, noting again that the customer may for example be an individual, company or another system. In accordance with the invention, the source data within the data repository 160, which forms the basis of the statistical data provided to the customer, remains anonymous to the customer. Where the customer is another system, which therefore requires a system-to-system embodiment, such embodiment can be achieved using "web service" technologies as described in detail below. These technologies, such as SOAP and XML allow for the implementation of the present invention as an internet service.

The present embodiment of the invention also determines on-the-fly the least cost providers for the services that are the subject of the request within the demographics of the inquiry e.g. within a postal code and its neighbours (see Figure 7).

Further, the invention recognises when the customer is paying more than an average payment, calculated during the retrieval process, and in such circumstances prompts the customer to seek alternative service offers (see Figure 8). These alternative service offers are made to cooperating service providers through system links and provide quotes back to the customer relevant to their demographics e.g. postal code or age or number or number of people in household. An exemplary embodiment of this feature is described in detail below.

The database store 160 is further schematically illustrated in Figures 10A, 10B, and 10C, which show some components of the database store including customer details 310 in Figure 10A, demographic details 320 in Figure 10B, and service provider details 330 in Figure 10C.

The payment records must contain basic customer details 310 but may provide less than full customer details, such as would be kept by a bank system. For example, no address is required by the apparatus of the present invention, as a postal code or geographic marker may be sufficient. The customer details 310 are anonymous and contain links 1015 to demographic data. Such links are important in producing reports from customer inquiries about payments of certain demographics. Demographic details 320 include the aforementioned postal code 1021 or geographic markers, and also include ages 1022, number of persons in a household 1023, and other details depending on the scope of the demographic comparisons to be performed. For example if data about ethnic origin was available then the system could produce statistics for home insurance for certain ethnic origin classes in certain age groups in certain postal code districts. Service provider details 330 include the payment amount 1034, type of service 1032 and the relevant service period 1033. For example, where the service is home insurance the service period may be one year, or where the service is gas provision, the service period may be 3 months or other nominated period. These account transaction details are associated with the payment of the bill and are retrieved from or sent from the service provider to form the service provider database 330. The service provider database 330 illustrated includes a link 1035 to extra information, such information being dependent on the type of payment represented by the record. For example if the type of service 1032 was a gas bill then the link 1035 may be null. However if the type of payment was for car insurance the link 1035 to extra information may link to records and data describing car insurance parameters such as make, model, age, owner, claim status and such details. The protocol for describing and interpreting such extra fields can be embodied in the transfer of information from service providers though such technologies as SOAP and XML.

After the database store 160 has been initialised with information records, a request comparison is made as illustrated in Figure 4. This request comparison 410 may come from a customer at a web browser 240 or through an application program interface 260. In either case the request will ask for a comparison operation to be made for a certain variety of service, for example gas, for a certain period of time, for example, the most recent billing period, and for certain demographic groups, for example people with 2 adults in the household aged between 45 and 55 and living in postcode area 3193. This request 410 could for instance be in the form of a network submission as illustrated in Figure 6, as from a web browser 240.

The apparatus 100 receives the request comparison 410 and the key demographic fields are extracted and used to search the database store. An efficient embodiment of this search is through indices compiled for records as they are entered into the database store 160. That is, for illustrative purposes, an index of postal codes, or age groups, or number of people in a household could be constructed as data records are loaded into the database store 160. Using such keys, records are retrieved which match the input data keys and, during this retrieve and calculate operation 415, tables of statistics are constructed. Such an exemplary table would be gas usage statistics for the illustrated query, in the present example households of 2 adults in the age range 46 to 55 in postal code area 3193 (Figure 6). The table would include values such as the mean, the median, the standard deviation, minimum and maximum and the cheapest two gas service providers found, on average, for that category. This is reported back at step 420 to the inquiring party as a report or a file depending on the embodiment. An example of a report to a web browser-based user is shown in Figure 7, while an example of a file or electronic record to an associated program request is shown in Figure 2B.

The report shown in Figure 7 shows a typical key output from the system of the present invention and demonstrates its advantageous nature by allowing people to compare their expenses for common services against similar households, yet without compromising the privacy of those other similar households.

The invention describes requests not only from a customer but also a request signaling a "group of customers" for comparison. This is illustrated as follows. An associated system shown in Figure 2B or web-based interface 240 can request a comparison for a subject, where the subject is a demographic group, rather than a single demographic unit such as a single household. In this group example a request comparison 410 would provide a "target group" e.g. all people over age 55 with one person in the household, in a postal code or set of postal codes. The request comparison 410 would also contain a "comparison group" such as another postal code or set of postal codes, and for example another age group category e.g. aged 65 or over with 2 people in the household.

The retrieve and calculate function 415 responds with a comparison between the "comparison group" and the "target group". This is achieved by accessing the database store 160 using programming methods consistent with those described in the case of the single customer request described above and illustrated by Figure 6, that is. via indices and search and calculate functions performed on the database store 160.

The illustration of the comparison report in Figure 7 offers the customer the choice of asking for alternative service offers, which is a feature of preferred embodiments of the invention. If this alternative service offer request is selected by the customer, then Figure 8 illustrates the nature of the interaction. The invention seeks parameters which characterise the service, such as the quantity of gas usage over a most recent billing period, (see Figure 8), or for example in the case of motor vehicle insurance the type and age and condition of the motor vehicle.

The system of the present embodiment also accepts statements regarding "other conditions" and these are sent to the alternative service providers and may be parsed and interpreted by them according to their own systems capabilities and processing. Certain illustrative requests are made of the customer such as "Will you accept the cheapest offer". In this case the invention may initiate automated completion of the transaction should a cheaper offer be found.

Having submitted a request for alternative service offers (See Figure 8), the system connects with appropriate service providers 440 to request quotes. This would be to a range of service providers for each class of service as illustrated in Figure 5, for example, for gas 510 or home insurance 530.

The teaching of the "alternative service offer" feature of the invention invokes new technologies such as SOAP and XML, and the concept of web services. By these it is meant the matter of communicating with one of a plurality of other computer system applications, capable of responding with offers. SOAP is a protocol for exchanging messages, particularly across the Internet and using the HTTP protocol. SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol, and is implemented through technologies offered by IBM, or Microsoft, or SUN, and is becoming standardised through the World Wide Web Consortium W3C.

SOAP allows a computer application, as in the present invention, to package messages to send to another cooperating application across the Internet. That is, the receiving application can be "remote" and its physical location is not relevant to the construction, communication and processing of the message. The SOAP message is fundamentally a message and not a command or function, however a message may be interpreted and then responded to with another message. So in the case of the present invention a message requesting a service offer is encoded and placed in a SOAP envelope which contains an XML encoded message and indications to the receiver as to how to process this package. The SOAP benefits are that it supplies information about its package - the XML - including information about the recipient and sender, and also information about how the message can or must be processed. Thus a receiving application can determine, amongst other things, if it actually is able to process the particular SOAP message.

The alternative service offer feature of the present invention can be embodied in a simple SOAP package containing for example, the type of service required, the area or location, and the features, and the period for which a quote or offer is required. For example, a package may contain a request for the supply of gas, for the suburb of Port Melbourne, for a period of 3 months. As another example, the request may be for car insurance for a Honda Civic Sedan, garaged in Port Melbourne, with no drivers less than 25 years old, and no insurance claims made in the last 3 years. Such messages can all be encoded and communicated in SOAP/XML and communicated to cooperating service providers, that is communicated to their web service centre for receiving and responding to such SOAP requests.

The teaching of the SOAP embodiment to illustrate the present invention can also be extended to other parts of the embodiment, for instance the access to and transfer of payment records as previously described. The feature of preferred embodiments of the present invention of soliciting an alternative offer can be further taught to illustrate its advantages. For example, a customer, registered with a service that embodies the invention, may request an alternative quote for a service, such as electricity. The following process demonstrates the advantageous nature of this feature. In the present embodiment, the customer's record includes their location, perhaps by a postal code, and records of payments to electricity suppliers of all the members registered with the system of the present invention. The method of the present embodiment executes the following steps: (1 ) Search the current location for all electricity companies with records in the database store; (2) If alternative electricity supply companies exist, and the sample size is sufficient, then go to step 4; (3) Otherwise "expand" the location and go to step 1 ; (4) Sort and calculate the average payments for customers with similar demographics to the active customer; (5) If the sample size is sufficient go to step 7; (6) Otherwise "expand" the location and go to step 1 ; (7) Find the lowest cost service providers and if lower than the active customer's bill present this selection option to the customers, as illustrated in Figure 8. The method of the present embodiment may "expand" the location by various means such as neighbouring postal codes or suburbs, and the determination of an "adequate" sample size is as determined by best practice.

Thus, in this example, the end result is a selection of electricity suppliers ranked in accordance with the criteria set out by the customer.

In this embodiment, a request is made of the customer, namely "Will you accept the cheapest offer", since in this case the present embodiment of the invention may initiate automated completion of the transaction should a cheaper offer be found. Having submitted a request for alternative service offers in Figure 8 the system connects with appropriate service providers 440 to request quotes. This would be to a range of service providers for each class of service as shown in Figure 5, for example for gas 510 or home insurance 530.

The present invention completes the alternative service offer report 450 to the customer and if responding to a web based inquiry reports back as illustrated in Figure 9. Here the customer may view the alternative service providers and the estimated savings as compared to the current payments of the customer to their current provider. Figure 9, for illustration, also prompts the customer to speak to a service representative live by invoking the service from the screen, as know in the art e.g. LIPSTREAM, HumanClick.

Thus the present embodiment of the invention is illustrated to receive inquires for comparisons against customers of nominated demographic groups with respect to common services and to offer reports and alternatives including the automated request of alternative service offers. It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A system for providing to a first customer anonymous demographic statistical data based on transactions of a plurality of customers for a particular service, the system comprising: means for recording transaction data of the transactions of the plurality of customers, the transaction data comprising at least account transaction data and customer demographic data representing demographic characteristics of the respective customer; means for retrieving recorded transaction data of a particular demographic subset of said plurality of customers; means for determining anonymous statistical data of the retrieved transaction data of the particular demographic subset, wherein said anonymous statistical data does not include the identity of any one of said plurality of customers; and means for providing said determined anonymous statistical data to said first customer.
2. The system of claim 1 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a fixed telephone service.
3. The system of claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a mobile telephone service.
4. The system of any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a gas provision service.
5. The system of any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises an electricity provision service.
6. The system of any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises an insurance service.
7. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a billing amount for a most recent billing period.
8. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a billing amount for each of a plurality of billing periods.
9. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a plurality of billing components in respect of differing billing categories of a single billing amount.
10. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises payment terms.
11. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises contractual terms.
12. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises the identity of the service provider.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein the determined statistical data distinguishes between the services provided by different service providers.
14. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer age information.
15. The system of claim 14 wherein the customer age information provides the customer's age in years.
16. The system of claim 14 wherein the customer age information provides an age bracket in which the customer's age falls.
17. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer gender information.
18. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer income information.
19. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer marital status.
20. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer family size.
21. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer address, suburb or postal area.
22. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the transactions of the plurality of customers upon which the demographic statistical data is based are transactions which have occurred in the past.
23. The system of any one of claims 1 to 21 wherein the transactions of the plurality of customers upon which the demographic statistical data is based are pre-arranged transactions which will not take place or be concluded until some time in the future.
24. The system of any one of the preceding claims and further comprising means to determine possible courses of future action for the first customer, based on said statistical data.
25. The system of claim 24 wherein the possible courses of future action comprise identifying alternate service providers for consideration of the first customer.
26. The system of claim 25 and further comprising means for automated transfer of said customer to an alternate service provider should the customer indicate they will change to the cheapest identified alternative service provider.
27. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein said recorded transaction data is obtained from at least one other pre-existing record.
28. The system of claim 27 wherein the at least one other pre-existing record comprises an electronic payment system.
29. The system of claim 27 or claim 28 wherein the at least one other preexisting record comprises a records system of a service provider which provides a service in respect of which the statistical data is determined.
30. The system of any one of claims 27 to 29 wherein the recorded transaction data is obtained by market survey.
31. The system of any one of the preceding claims wherein the first customer is an individual.
32. The system of any one of claims 1 to 30 wherein the first customer is another system.
33. The system of any one of claims 1 to 30 wherein the first customer is a group of individuals.
34. The system of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recorded transaction data relates to a plurality of services.
35. A method for providing to a first customer anonymous demographic statistical data based on transactions of a plurality of customers for a particular service, the method comprising the steps of: recording transaction data of the transactions of the plurality of customers, the transaction data comprising at least account transaction data and customer demographic data representing demographic characteristics of the respective customer; retrieving recorded transaction data of a particular demographic subset of said plurality of customers; determining anonymous statistical data of the retrieved transaction data of the particular demographic subset, wherein said anonymous statistical data does not include the identity of any one of said plurality of customers; and providing said determined anonymous statistical data to said first customer.
36. The method of claim 35 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a fixed telephone service.
37. The method of claim 35 or claim 36 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a mobile telephone service.
38. The method of any one of claims 35 to 37 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises a gas provision service.
39. The method of any one of claims 35 to 38 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises an electricity provision service.
40. The method of any one of claims 35 to 39 wherein the particular service in respect of which the anonymous statistical data is provided comprises an insurance service.
41. The method of any one of claims 35 to 40, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a billing amount for a most recent billing period.
42. The method of any one of claims 35 to 41 , wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a billing amount for each of a plurality of billing periods.
43. The method of any one of claims 35 to 42, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises a plurality of billing components in respect of differing billing categories of a single billing amount.
44. The method of any one of claims 35 to 43, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises payment terms.
45. The method of any one of claims 35 to 44, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises contractual terms.
46. The method of any one of claims 35 to 45, wherein the recorded account transaction data in respect of each transaction of the plurality of customers comprises the identity of the service provider.
47. The method of claim 46, wherein the determined statistical data distinguishes between the services provided by different service providers.
48. The method of any one of claims 35 to 47 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer age information.
49. The method of claim 48 wherein the customer age information provides the customer's age in years.
50. The method of claim 48 wherein the customer age information provides an age bracket in which the customer's age falls.
51. The method of any one of claims 35 to 50 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer gender information.
52. The method of any one of claims 35 to 51 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer income information.
53. The method of any one of claims 35 to 52 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer marital status.
54. The method of any one of claims 35 to 53 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer family size.
55. The method of any one of claims 35 to 54 wherein the customer demographic data comprises customer address, suburb or postal area.
56. The method of any one of claims 35 to 55 wherein the transactions of the plurality of customers upon which the demographic statistical data is based are transactions which have occurred in the past.
57. The method of any one of claims 35 to 55 wherein the transactions of the plurality of customers upon which the demographic statistical data is based are pre-arranged transactions which will not take place or be concluded until some time in the future.
58. The method of any one of claims 35 to 57 and further comprising the step of determining possible courses of future action for the first customer, based on said statistical data.
59. The method of claim 58 wherein the possible courses of future action comprise identifying alternate service providers for consideration of the first customer.
60. The method of claim 59 and further comprising the step of automatically transferring said customer to an alternate service provider should the customer indicate they will change to the cheapest identified alternative service provider.
61. The method of any one of claims 35 to 60 wherein said recorded transaction data is obtained from at least one other pre-existing record.
62. The method of claim 61 wherein the at least one other pre-existing record comprises an electronic payment system.
63. The method of claim 61 or claim 62 wherein the at least one other preexisting record comprises a records system of a service provider which provides a service in respect of which the statistical data is determined.
64. The method of any one of claims 61 to 63 wherein the recorded transaction data is obtained by market survey.
65. The method of any one of claims 35 to 64 wherein the first customer is an individual.
66. The method of any one of claims 35 to 64 wherein the first customer is a system.
67. The method of any one of claims 35 to 64 wherein the first customer is a group of individuals.
68. The method of any one of claims 35 to 67, wherein the recorded transaction data relates to a plurality of services.
69. The method of any one of claims 35 to 68, further comprising the step of enlarging a demographic subset defined by a customer, if insufficient data records exist to provide an adequate statistical sample size.
70. A method according to any one of claims 35 to 69 wherein said statistical data comprises at least one of an average, a mean, a standard deviation, a minimum, a maximum, a median, a ranking, a total number of records, period data and derived period data.
PCT/AU2002/000658 2001-05-24 2002-05-24 Method and apparatus for demographic payment comparison and alternative service offer system WO2002095636A1 (en)

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