Danny Dicks asks: Why, when communication service provider (CSPs) are facing huge changes in technology, customer expectations and market segmentation, do so many of their customers still receive a bill that’s essentially the same as it was ten years ago? It’s not that it’s a case of ‘it ain’t broke so don’t fix it.’
The bill has to evolve to meet today’s customer expectations
Many CSPs know that the billing experience for their customers isn’t very good: according to Omnisperience research conducted in mid-2020 among CSPs worldwide, 92% of them are planning to invest to improve the billing experience, and 84% are planning to do this within two years.
The bill – as many customers know it – is dead. It is not fulfilling today’s purposes. Paper bills are declining in popularity, but e-mailed bills often aren’t even looked at – at least by consumers. The only time a bill is examined carefully by a consumer is when it’s the first or second bill … and then they often don’t understand it.
For businesses, bills aren’t delivering the detailed data needed in a form that businesses want. Their service needs are rapidly changing and they need help to determine the best thing to do, and their bills aren’t helping them do any of this.
The bill has to evolve to suit the stage in the customer relationship
At each stage of the customer relationship the bill has a specific role to play:
- at the start of the customer relationship, the bill clearly explains the first, pro-rated amount to be paid and why it may be more, or less, than the recurring amount will be
- during the mid-cycle of the relationship, the bill performs three important functions
- it explains the value of the services delivered in a clear way
- it cements the relationship through careful design and customised presentation – meeting the information needs of the customer
- as the relationship matures, the bill can be used to proactively suggest refreshes to the customer’s service package – explaining how different tariffs, offers, or new services would benefit them
- at the end of the customer lifecycle, the bill informs the customer the contract is ending (a legally required duty in countries such as the UK) and can explain special offers to reward loyal or renewing customers.
Customisability is critical here: the information required by a new customer is different to that required by a long-standing customer or one at the end of their contract. The most powerful way to achieve this customisability is by using online delivery of bills where customers themselves can choose how to see the aspects of their bill that are most useful to them. This is particularly important with complex service packages, and especially for enterprises.
Resurrecting the bill
For many CSPs, the billing communications processes and systems – and the way bill communications are handled from a governance and management perspective – don’t readily allow for changes to the customer’s billing experience. The billing and IT department are focused on ensuring that bills are accurate, not that the way they are presented is enhancing the relationship with the customer. Which is problematic because often the billing and IT departments are by default the primary owner of the bill communications function.
But if CSPs can benchmark their billing maturity, and deploy systems to apply a ‘digital skin’ to the output of their billing engines, life can be breathed back into the bill very quickly and effectively.
Find out more in Omnisperience’s Orange Paper: Effective Digital Billing For Service Provider Success.
Written by Danny Dicks, Associate Principal Analyst at Omnisperience