In the evolution of Billing ‘thinking’ for Telcos we’ve seen everything from ‘All you can eat’ offers to ‘Another coin in the slot’. But this perennial business process black-hole can prove to be an area that can add to a Telcos armory in retaining and keeping happy its corporate customers. Not only this but following on from lessons learnt by the Financial Services community it can provide early warnings of customer, partner and service exposure, significant benefits to any organisations Revenue Assurance efforts.
The Integrated Customer Service Hub has evolved to allow customers, frequently the high value corporate organisations, on-line access firstly to Billing information then expanding to encompass other operational data such as new service orders and provisioning data, trouble tickets and service usage data. Increasingly customers are requiring being more in control of their services and so the hub has further evolved to allow customer self-servicing allowing them to place orders and receive information in the format that works for them not just their telecommunications service supplier.
The problem that this communications hub has is that frequently it’s a hard coded entity in a world of change. Every day there are changes to the services available, new service bundles and new billing requirements. To keep up to speed with integrating new partners, new customers and new data requirements means that frequently we can hear the cry of ‘Yes we can provide this service but when can we bill our customers for it?’
To be able to manage this predicament, one that will continue and expand in the future, you need to address a number of key issues:
- Multi-enterprise data integration
- Any-to-any data transformation
- Easy process of customer and partner on-boarding
- Management and visibility of data flows
The complexity of who is actually supplying the services sold by telcos means that usage and billing data of these services may not be in the corporate standard, so you need to be able to transform this data quickly and easily because you can be sure it will change, most probably numerous times and you need to be able to capture these data and format transformations. Increasingly this data will also be in unstructured formats meaning that getting it into your operational system or database can be a lengthy and costly process. But it’s not simply a data transformation process, managing the on-boarding or connection to new suppliers or customers is critical. You have to be able to do this quickly and easily as this is one of the crucial stages in any business relationship and if it takes too long, is too complicated or too many errors creep in meaning rewrites and revisions then the telcos’ credibility can be viewed as seriously suspect. Finally, once all these links are made, data is translated and begins to flow you need to have visibility of it as there will be problems. It’s the ability to see these problems early and be able to provide a proactive response that can actually help a business relationship so the ability to see and manage the data flows is a critical element of providing an integrated customer service hub.
Change will always be with us but is our ability to manage it that differentiates those telcos that survive and prosper.