Where Are all the Billing Vendors?
By James Lazeroff
Let’s face it: There aren’t a lot of billing vendors setting up shop at CTIA again this year. I’m sure there are lots of reasons why. CTIA hasn’t made us billing vendors our own cozy little Billing Pavilion; nor does the back office appear as a hot topic on the education tracks. For the billing vendors, I know budgets are tight and trade shows are squarely on the chopping blocks for many companies that need foot traffic and real leads to justify the expense of exhibiting. I’ll even admit that most people think billing is boring. Heck, we don’t even bring cheerleaders to our booth to stand out among the fray (we do have some cool pens, though!).
But if you’re a service provider wondering what your “next big initiative" should be, perhaps it’s time to consider the application and service that provides a real opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors, touches your customers at every point in their relationship with you, and provides endless amounts of data to nearly every team in your organization. That’s right, it’s the boring old billing system. Skeptical? Read on.
- Let’s just assume your marketing and sales efforts ring true and you’re adept at getting new customers – it’s all about keeping them. So ask yourself, “Why do customers leave?" I’m taking bets that a poor customer experience is among the top answers. And the No. 1 application your customer care and retail store representatives use is – wait for it – the billing system. Your billing system needs to provide fast and efficient views into customer detail for any service opportunity. A CSR can diffuse an upset customer with proper training and the right information at their fingertips. One call. Fast resolution. Happy customer.
- The customer sales experience is equally important no matter where that sale happens – in a retail store, online, over the phone, or through an agent. Again, what application is responsible for making that happen? It begins with a “b." The billing system.
- It goes without saying that a customer’s invoice needs to be 100 percent accurate, on time, and easy to understand with all charges, records, payments and fees spelled out. In a regulatory environment that has become increasingly hostile to telecom providers, charging accuracy is beyond crucial. Once again, this responsibility belongs to the billing system.
- Finally, consider that a quality billing application will also let your marketing staff know which promotions are working, give your finance team consistent revenue and profitability metrics, provide sales with performance numbers, and allow management to secure a view into critical operational benchmarks. Once again, it’s all about the billing system.
In the end, the success of many of your customer impressions comes from one crucial tool that you select, implement and then often forget. All the experiences described above including face-to-face, phone, printed invoice, Web portal, and even SMS messages for marketing or regulatory purposes (i.e bill shock) are facilitated by the billing system. Just as your product offerings evolve, so must your billing system.
There are a lot of studies on how much it costs to get a new customer. The right billing choice can promise a big payday in keeping the ones you have, as well as helping you collect the money along the way.
James Lazeroff is director of marketing for IDI Billing.Solutions.
Looking for more? Click here for B/OSS' ongoing coverage of CTIA Wireless 2012 and here for V2M's coverage of the event. And check out V2M Editor-in-Chief Tara Seals' Twitter feed for her take from New Orleans.