At the surface level, telecoms billing is a straightforward process of billing businesses and consumers for the communications and connectivity products and services they have used.
Each time a call, text message or a similar type of transaction crosses over a communications network, the network operator (also known as a carrier) generates what is known as call detail records (CDRs). A CDR contains all the information that will be required to measure and rate usage according to the customer’s tariff.
At the end of a billing period, typically a month, a communications provider (CP) will take all the usage data generated by its customers and use these data records to generate bills for each customer account. In addition, customers will often have service charges for items such as line rental and device plans which must be combined with the rateable bill data.
Couldn’t be simpler, right?
Well, yes and no. Telecoms billing processes have become increasingly complex in recent years due to the introduction of complicated pricing plans, inclusive usage, bundles, mobile tariffs and so on. On month one it shouldn’t be too challenging for a CP to prepare its bills, however, billing charges can rise rapidly to over £100,000 a month and accuracy is absolutely critical. As time goes on and CPs scale-up, customer management in this crucial area of operations can become unmanageable quite quickly.
It’s advisable, therefore, to use a telecoms billing software (or billing system) to automate the process of calculating, generating and dispatching bills. Telecoms billing systems automatically carry out many processes on behalf of CPs so that all charges can be added up accurately without fault on a consistent basis. Very few telecoms professionals would deny the effectiveness of a billing system when it comes to customer management and ensuring profitability. Most would consider them as essential to smooth operating, revenue management and scalability.
Most billing platforms will incorporate revenue assurance functionality, allowing CPs to quickly analyse the value of their products. This helps them to check that services are being sold at a worthwhile profit, identify areas of revenue leakage and verify that suppliers are billing them at the correct rate.
In the case of our aBILLity billing platform, there are many revenue assurance tools available as standard within the package. CPs can also create innovative bundles and there are numerous features and billing techniques to increase margin and add to the bottom line, without necessarily increasing published tariffs. For buy-in rates, our ‘Carrier Watch’ functionality allows CPs to check buying rates against an agreed tariff, automatically flagging up specific over-charged calls so a credit claim can be issued back to the carrier.
In addition, a decent billing system should assist a CP in complying with its responsibilities as a data controller by keeping sensitive customer billing data safe and secure. This is particularly relevant following the introduction of GDPR as CPs now have much greater obligations in this regard. From a security perspective, many billing systems will also provide fraud management solutions that can detect and counter fraudulent activity, stopping it at an early stage before serious damage is done.
In short, effective telecoms billing is essential for providers of communication services. Choosing a billing platform that’s backed by a reputable vendor which continually invests in and develops its software, is one way CPs can future proof their business and stay ahead of the curve.