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Necessity of having a Accurate & Robust Billing System

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12

Dec, 2016

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The Traditional Business Model did not require much of brain storming as it was just one-time billing and it was done with simplicity without causing any hassle for the consumer or the billing authority. The entrance of recurring business model has increased mental work for the billing department as apart from a fix services customer has the power to anytime subscribe or unsubscribe from any of the add on services. Thus, if your billing model does not support these features the company may not be able to track the amount to be billed and not to be billed, where bill generation is a must to maintain satisfaction and trust among customers.

To manage one-time charges as well as sophisticated usage-based and in-arrears charges it is a must to have a great billing system in place.

What a robust billing system give you:

  • Minimise Revenue Leakage by identifying and plugging gaps in your systems
  • Minimise Customer Churn by facilitating in improving services the end user will trust
  • Maximise Customer Experience by helping you maintain focus on your end use
  • A pragmatic approach which will allow you to progress at your own speed towards approval
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements

Selling –PUSH Strategy

Sometimes to increase our reach we use PUSH strategy to sell, where the customer has to avail a certain service to avail the one they actually wish to avail. This strategy may work correctly with certain products and not always specifically when it’s a broadband based service, as a single fault in the system can cost a customer a huge bill for services which they may not even have subscribed too and that leads to bad reputation in the market and hence leading to decrease in customer churning. So even if initially you do go for a push way of selling your services then, here we should look for a good billing system which will follow billing policy accurately and avoid as many mistakes as possible.

A system based on recurring model will also cater to the fact that if mistakes are made they will be rectified quickly. Mistakes can destroy reputation in the market. Therefore a good billing system is necessary for all service providers.

Billing System should be scalable:

To handle large volumes of transactions every moment by thousands of customers as the firm grows granular changes and customer relation has to be maintained

The Customer could be sent personalize invoice:

Invoicing is where your customer comes into picture as it’s a customer touch point, which means it’s a built-in branding opportunity. Your services should be in such way that it can carry on billing automation, which gives you the ability to customize every single invoice without impacting scale by your own.

If your business has a recurring revenue model, your billing system needs to be built to handle the sophistication of this new business world.

Billing is one of the most important activities of any department, because of billing activity revenue is generated for the department as well as the organization as whole.

Your Billing Module should ensure that all Billing activities related to Broadband services or Cable Services is captured and stored in a calculative manner and gives a very accurate output at the time of generating invoices and receipts to the clients; it also has the ability to handle through a single system.

In summary, your billing system should be controlling revenue leakage or loss of revenue, prompt invoicing and it integrates seamlessly with corporate financial system.

When it’s postpaid billing:

  • Your system should be able to generate Invoice & Receivables
  • It should see that what are the Recurring charges (RC) and their Proration
  • If the customer has opted for some basic services only and no additional features are requested by him he should have an invoice of one time charges only.
  • The Taxes should be well updated in the system to automatically get added in the invoice.
  • If the customer is availing too many services at one go then they may be given a system which has multiple billing cycles, hence keeping a track of each and every service being availed and billed accurately.
  • Causing no hassle to you there should be an automatic invoice generation and at the same time Automatic sending of invoices by mail to the customer.

With the evolution of new devices the customer demands more bandwidth and advanced internet services with high speed which makes both the consumers and providers stay ahead in the competition. The need of internet is growing from connectivity at corporate offices to residential buildings, hotels, coffee shops, airports, shopping malls, etc. In some regions tea shops at roadside were also providing Wifi services, to improve their business. This simply means enabling internet access at the public hotspots accommodating large number of smart phone devices concurrently connected to the network. It requires flawless bandwidth control, internet usage monitoring, maintaining a secured network, and providing faultless connectivity.

Internet Service Providers need to have a proper bandwidth management strategy that takes care of bandwidth allocation based on priorities and allows administrator to fairly distribute the bandwidth to all the users in the network. If there are multiple operator networks, then it is also important that different zones and regions can be created in the system so that every operator is aware of the zone where it needs to operate in and not nudge with other providers zone.

Here are few important acronyms which the consumer needs to be aware of too apart from service providers:

Authentication, Authorization & Accounting (AAA):

Authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) is a term for a framework for intelligently controlling access to computer resources, enforcing policies, auditing usage and providing the information necessary to bill for services. These combined processes are considered important for effective network management and security.

AAA services is highly flexible solution which is pre-integrated with various third party systems enabling service providers to offer innovative services to their subscribers.

Bandwidth and QoS (Quality of Service) Management:

Offering high quality service to high-valued enterprise customers. Variable bandwidth allocation based on hours/days and data usage supports customized services.

Subscriber Management System:

Subscriber management system facilitates service providers to manage unlimited number of users in a dynamic network with user addition/updation/deletion management functions, user migration facilities and user authentication process. A pre-integrated with external database like LDAP, active-directory etc to fetch user details, avoid recreation of users. It enables service providers to easily manage major issues like revenue leakage, user management, user loyalty and analysis of network congestion.

Captive Portal:

Captive Portal enables service providers to create different types of login templates in the system. With the help of captive portal features, service providers can create pool wise, zone wise, SSID wise, location wise captive portal for their subscriber base. It helps user login process more attractive with the help of various features provided and offers an advertising platform for increasing market reach.

BroadBand Billing Solutions for internet service providers, will applies to – “Bandwidth Management Solutions for ISP i.e Internet Service Providers”.

Dynamic IP Pool:

Requesting DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) computers receive a dynamic IP address for the duration of that Internet session or for some other specified amount of time. Once the user disconnects from the Internet, their dynamic IP address goes back into the IP address pool so it can be assigned to another user. Even if the user reconnects immediately, odds are they will not be assigned the same IP address from the pool. To keep our telephone analogy going, using a dynamic IP address is similar to using a pay phone. Unless there is a reason to receive a call, the user does not care what number he or she is calling from.

There are times, however, when users who connect to the Internet using dynamic IP wish to allow other computers to locate them. Perhaps they want to use CU-SeeMe or use a VoIP application to make long distance phone calls using their IP connection. In that case, they would need a static IP address. The user has two choices; they can contact their ISP and request a static IP address, or they can use a dynamic DNS service. Either choice will probably involve an additional monthly fee.

Using a dynamic DNS service works as if there was an old-fashioned telephone message service at your computer’s disposal. When a user registers with a DNS service and connects to the Internet with a dynamic IP address, the user’s computer contacts the DNS service and lets them know what IP address it has been assigned from the pool; the service works with the DNS server to forward the correct address to the requesting DHCP computer.

When it comes to service industry; like providing broad band services billing is a complex in this industry. Multiple activities which comes under Billing and few of the main ones are  RADIUS AAA Module, WiMAX AAA support, Concurrence enforcement per group or per user, Advanced usage reporting, Dynamic IP pool allocation with support for high availability, DHCP alternative, Statistics graphs, Security, SSL, secured HTML based administration and Wi-Fi hotspot support.

These activities are crucial for any ISP to claim complete revenue and to control revenue leakage.  It needs robust Billing System which can handle all activities and scenarios.

Based on these facts, it becomes clear that Billing is no longer a back office function that sits off by itself. It is the central repository for crucial information, and must sit in the middle of any information exchange. With the right platform, Billing can easily integrate with a number of other key systems. It is the perfect place to automate the business processes that connect functions and teams like, sales and product implementation.

By : madhusudhan rajula

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