The way the world communicates has changed unrecognisably over recent years.
Calling, messaging, sharing, videoconferencing: the cloud has transformed it all.
For Managed Service Providers, System Integrators and Value-Added Resellers, it’s understandably been about functionality, service and cost.
But there’s another key dynamic to winning – and most importantly retaining – market share: the way it is all billed.
Billing is no longer just a way of collecting revenue.
It’s also a way to showcase brilliant service, simplify customers’ workflows, and deliver a user experience that can make all the difference come contract renewal time.
Here, Chanell Horton, Account Manager Team Lead at leading billing software provider Union Street, shares her top five tips on how to get it right…
There’s nothing worse than a complicated or inaccurate bill which prevents a customer from seeing clearly how much they are being charged and for what. It means they have to spend time and resource going over it, trying to understand it. If it’s not clear or accurate, it can frustrate a customer and cause them to develop a detrimental view of you. It’s bad for you too, as an unclear or inaccurate bill means your customer will have complaints and queries that your teams will have to deal with. Products and services should be listed in plain English, codes should be avoided, and charges must be up-to-date and accurate. It’s not uncommon for end customers to get in a mess with their billing and to not understand what they’re paying for. Providing complete clarity every month is a big differentiator.
It’s not very glamorous but it’s probably the most important aspect of any billing system. Customer data, confidential information, your own commercials – if any of it finds its way into the wrong hands, it can be catastrophic and there is huge potential for reputational damage. Unintentionally breaching regulations such as GDPR can have far-reaching consequences so your billing platform must have comprehensive and robust security hard-wired into it. Also, modern remote working means there is pressure on systems and software to respond to today’s new challenges. Having a web-based system that can be accessed securely from anywhere and on any device is really important. It not only underpins and simplifies your own internal workflows, it also provides your customers with service and security assurances they can trust.
The telecommunications industry is so fast-paced; products and services are evolving all of the time and many are now bespoke. MSPs and VARs must be flexible in the way they package and sell those solutions so they must also have a billing platform that is equally flexible. A customer may have consumed a service for a long time and be used to seeing that on the bill. If that service is somehow changed and extra cost is incurred, the bill has to reflect that really clearly and really quickly. Union Street’s aBILLity platform, for example, incorporates an intuitive self-service portal which enables end users to make adjustments easily and quickly.
The best billing platforms integrate seamlessly with organisations’ other business-critical systems such as their Customer Relationship Management, provisioning, onboarding and accounting applications. Having to enter information several times via multiple different portals is clunky and expensive, inevitably leading to inaccuracies in data across these systems. Open APIs, such as Union Street’s, enable the quick and easy integration of organisations’ systems; making everything so much more efficient. Imagine having to add a new customer’s hundreds of telephone numbers or billing references to three or four different systems. That kind of unwanted duplication can add days to an onboarding process that should be simple and straightforward.
Everyone wants a system that is easy to navigate and that is easy on the eye. No-one wants to have to click around multiple times in order to access one piece of information. That means user experience is more important that many people think. The simplicity of the user interface, the seamless back-end connectivity to organisations’ other systems, the interoperability of all of the various components – that sort of joined-up functionality delivers the kind of user experience that sets your billing platform apart. It’s also about driving efficiency and saving costs too. A platform which has smoothness and predictability enables organisations to streamline their billing process without any risk of compromising the end-product. Internally, a high-quality user experience also minimises employee fatigue which, in turn, mitigates against human error. Your bill sometimes provides the only regular interaction between you and your customers – getting it right is key.
This article was originally published on UC Today –Top Five Tips on How to Turn Revenue Collection into a Market Differentiator