telecoms billing bad practises to avoid

Telecoms Billing bad practices to avoid

In the intricate landscape of telecoms billing, the practices you adopt can determine the success or failure of your business. Whether you are an established reseller or a budding startup, adopting good telco billing practices is essential for your financial health. Unfortunately, many businesses unwittingly stumble into the trap of bad billing practices. This can lead to revenue loss, diminished margins, customer dissatisfaction and operational inefficiencies.

Identifying Common Pitfalls: Are You a ‘Bad Biller’?

In this blog post, we shed light on the most common telecoms billing bad practices and provide actionable insights to help you avoid these challenges and enhance your billing efficiency.

1. Avoid Percentage Uplift Rates

Applying prices in your telecom billing system as a simple percentage uplift might seem convenient, but it can lead to inconsistencies and confusion. At Tekton Billing, we advocate a transparent approach. Instead of relying on percentage uplifts, consider applying a defined rate and bundle allowance for all your services. This not only provides flexibility and visibility but also shields you from supplier inconsistencies.

With percentage uplift, telcos rely on the CDR files sent by suppliers and automatically apply a percentage increase to these rates. You are completely at the mercy of what the supplier charges. Mistakes at supplier level are automatically translated to retail level.

Naturally, we support all our partners with their billing preferences but we strongly encourage them to rate rather than uplift to avoid supplier errors. This also allows you to enjoy economies of scale as you have the flexibility to re-bundle data and price it independently of how it was purchased. By creating a disconnect between your wholesale and retail propositions, you gain greater control over your billing decisions, ensuring accuracy and consistency.

2. Say no to Pass-Through

Many telecom billing platforms still use the pass-through method, automatically passing on all supplier charges or credits to your customer on a like-for-like basis. However, this method lacks control and can cause significant issues.

Again, you are entirely dependent on your suppliers’ monthly SDRs to send out your invoices. The date these are issued by suppliers can be notoriously unreliable, and as such can cause confusion and unpredictability for your customers. Moreover, if you want to remove an item from a bill, you need to manually mark it as ‘zero and suppress’. This is a common source of frustration for many resellers.

We therefore don’t recommend pass-through for the following reasons:

  • You cannot readily identify active fixed charges assigned to a customer (you can only retrospectively see this after SDRs are delivered).
  • You are completely at the mercy of your supplier in terms of timing and what is included in your bill. If a supplier forgets to include a line item, you cannot bill it.
  • It is a reactive method that requires you to check everything that is new and supress where required. This can be time consuming, particularly with certain telecom billing systems that don’t provide an interface to show differences in SDRs.

 

In contrast, ZOEY gives you the control and flexibility to decide what the customer will be charged based on their contract. We apply a rate card to every service, providing visibility of charges and ensuring accuracy. Our inbuilt pre-invoice checks make it easy to review wholesale charges, resolve unexpected charges and decide what to add or omit from a bill.

Whilst pass-through may seem a time-efficient approach, it is restrictive and can result in inaccurate billing. As with percentage uplifts, it offers resellers little in the way of differentiation in an already busy marketplace.

With ZOEY, resellers have greater control over their pricing and can differentiate themselves from competitors.

3. Add new Connections and deal with Rejects Promptly

Another common mistake is failing to add new connections to the telecom billing software or deal with rejects promptly. Sales can be made at any point in the month. Billers can either choose to add these new sales at the point of sale or collate them to add to the telecom billing system at the end of the month. We strongly advise against the latter for the following reasons:

  • It can create a mad rush at the end of the month when billing managers are busy trying to get their bills out. This can lead to missed billing and revenue loss.
  • If new services aren’t added and allocated to a customer, they are missing out on alerting. This could mean customers are hitting spending caps during the month without alerts.
  • Customers will be unable to immediately log onto their customer area to see usage and reporting available – not a great first impression!

 

Moreover, it is important that billers look at how they manage rejects. Many use ‘unallocated calls or rejects’ as the primary method of adding new connections. This is not our recommended approach. We advise our partners to use our ‘Unallocated Calls’ report, sometimes referred to as ‘rejects’ or ‘exceptions’, or ‘suspense’ in other systems, as a safety net only. This report identifies missed connections but should be used as a fallback only. A more proactive approach to your billing and your unallocated usage improves your customer experience and increases accuracy. Check out our 3 Top Tips for dealing with Unallocated Usage.

4. Use hourly or daily CDRs

Suppliers often default to monthly Call Detail Records (CDRs), but did you know that more frequent options exist, such as daily or even hourly CDRs? By requesting more frequent CDRs, you gain the advantage of mid-month alerting and the ability to prepare bill runs early. This proactive approach not only streamlines your billing process but also enhances billing accuracy, benefiting both you and your customers.

We strongly advise resellers to ask their suppliers for dailies or better, so they can have greater control over the timing of bill runs. In theory, you can send invoices to customers on the 1st day of the month as you already have fixed charge details and CDRs are collected daily.

5. Avoid attaching PDFs

Traditionally, sending invoices as PDF attachments via email was the norm. However, this approach is now considered outdated and risky, posing a significant threat to the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Sending invoices as PDF attachments increases the risk of accidental exposure of personal data, potentially leading to GDPR violations. There is however a safer and more efficient alternative. We strongly recommend notifying customers via email that their bill is ready to view on their secure customer portal. This protects both yourself and your customer.

Directing customers to the customer portal brings an array of other benefits, including:

  • Increasing customer engagement and stickiness as they become more familiar with the portal and learn to love it.
  • Creating targeted marketing opportunities as you have a captive audience every month. You can show them targeted marketing messages to encourage cross-selling opportunities. Explore more strategies in our blog on 5 ways to cross-sell through your Telecoms Billing platform.
  • Promoting more self-serve to reduce the strain on your customer support. Read our blog post to discover more benefits of customer self-service functionality.

Of course we understand there will always be end-users that insist on receiving a PDF attachment, despite the risks. We therefore naturally still support this in ZOEY if needed.

Conclusion: Your Path to Better Billing Practices

In summary, we strongly recommend creating a disconnect between how your suppliers bill and how you bill. This disconnect smooths out inconsistencies and allows you to differentiate from competitors, particularly those using the uplift method.

Good telco billing practices are not just about financial gains, they also contribute to customer loyalty and a positive brand image. So, ask yourself: Are you practicing good billing habits? If you identify with any of the telecoms billing bad practises above, it’s time to embrace change and embark on the journey towards better billing.

If you have any questions or would like to delve deeper into any of the points discussed, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on recommended telecom billing practices, read:

 

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