Excellent customer service depends heavily on effective business support systems (BSS). And a big part of that is excellent billing – ask any business that has sent out incorrect bills! But it’s not just the consumer world where this applies, it is equally valid (if not more so) in the B2B or enterprise space where the bill amounts are much higher. Nowadays, a crucial part of excellent billing is automation.
Automating billing, from order to payment, eases the journey for everyone. For the service provider (telecoms operator in this case) reducing the time taken up addressing issues about billing, increases the time there is for discussing upgrades, add-ons and new services.
In the enterprise space, it has taken some time to solve some of the most irritating issues for business customers – such as ensuring bespoke sales deals are mapped correctly to what can be billed. It has come down to matching processes and properly understanding customers’ priorities; ‘smoothing out’ a process for a B2B customer is critical. Contrary to conventional wisdom, business customers will not try to delay payment or attempt to cause problems with their provider. And that’s because the telecoms bill is probably a tiny fraction of their overall costs.
They both just want the interactions to be easier.
An easy life, in this context, means a smooth process, and a smooth process means one that allows the customer to easily compare the bill in front of them (probably quite a large file) with what they are expecting.
Cerillion’s Dominic Smith points out: “Businesses still generally buy from sales or account managers and the moment they have a problem, they go straight back to the person who sold them the service for help – this is human nature. But it is also a big issue for the service provider. Solving billing problems not only eats up valuable time which could be spent selling to others, but it also becomes a bargaining chip in any future sales negotiations with the client. So it’s a double whammy.”
In fact, reports suggest that salespeople typically only spend a third of their time on sales. If your billing process is not as efficient and automated as possible, the prospect of selling extra services or upgrades, which require new contracts, is daunting. A salesperson might well decide to keep the peace by not suggesting new business services.
Matching a customer’s processes as far as possible is a massive step forward. Automating those processes is the icing on the cake. Selling new services on a subscription basis is the cherry on top, making the process even smoother.
As Smith adds: “Automation is a win for both sides, delivering not only a better customer experience but also guaranteeing improved cash flow for the service provider.”
So, excellent billing means excellent customer service and – more pragmatically – it means that your salespeople, the drivers of your business, are freer (and happier) to do what you pay them to do. Savvy operators have achieved automation levels that allow services to be selected on a mobile app, be signed for digitally and then deployed seamlessly on the network and BSS systems simultaneously. There’s still a role for account managers, but their time can be focused on upselling and cross-selling, rather than smoothing over issues. Support for B2B customers might not look the same as it does for the consumer market. Speedy onboarding, accurate and timely billing and automated customer interactions, e.g. chatbots, mean that the customer experience can also be excellent. Automation is the key that opens the door to happy customers.
The other articles in the series: