Tag Archives: billing
As we renew or reinvent ourselves for 2015, I wanted to share a case of “imagine if” with you and combine it with the narrative of an American frontier town out West, trying to find a new Sheriff – a Wyatt Earp. In this case the town is a legacy European communications firm and Wyatt and his brothers are the new managers – the change agents.
Here is a positive word upfront. This operator has had some success in rolling outs broadband internet and IPTV products to residential and business clients to replace its dwindling copper install base. But they are behind the curve on the wireless penetration side due to the number of smaller, agile MVNOs and two other multi-national operators with a high density of brick-and-mortar stores, excellent brand recognition and support infrastructure. Having more than a handful of brands certainly did not make this any easier for our CSP. To make matters even more challenging, price pressure is increasingly squeezing all operators in this market. The ones able to offset the high-cost Capex for spectrum acquisitions and upgrades with lower-cost Opex for running the network and maximizing subscriber profitability, will set themselves up for success (see one of my earlier posts around the same phenomenon in banking).
Not only did they run every single brand on a separate CRM and billing application (including all the various operational and analytical packages), they also ran nearly every customer-facing-service (CFS) within a brand the same dysfunctional way. In the end, they had over 60 CRM and the same number of billing applications across all copper, fiber, IPTV, SIM-only, mobile residential and business brands. Granted, this may be a quite excessive example; but nevertheless, it is relevant for many other legacy operators.
As a consequence, their projections indicate they incur over €600,000 annually in maintaining duplicate customer records (ignoring duplicate base product/offer records for now) due to excessive hardware, software and IT operations. Moreover, they have to stomach about the same amount for ongoing data quality efforts in IT and the business areas across their broadband and multi-play service segments.
Here are some more consequences they projected:
- €18.3 million in call center productivity improvement
- €790,000 improvement in profit due to reduced churn
- €2.3 million reduction in customer acquisition cost
- And if you include the fixing of duplicate and conflicting product information, add another €7.3 million in profit via billing error and discount reduction (which is inline with our findings from a prior telco engagement)
Despite major business areas not having contributed to the investigation and improvements being often on the conservative side, they projected a 14:1 return ratio between overall benefit amount and total project cost.
Coming back to the “imagine if” aspect now, one would ask how this behemoth of an organization can be fixed. Well, it will take years but without management (in this case new managers busting through the door), this organization has the chance to become the next Rocky Mountain mining ghost town.
The good news is that this operator is seeing some management changes now. The new folks have a clear understanding that business-as-usual won’t do going forward and that centralization of customer insight (which includes some data elements) has its distinct advantages. They will tackle new customer analytics, order management, operational data integration (network) and next-best-action use cases incrementally. They know they are in the data, not just the communication business. They realize they have to show a rapid succession of quick wins rather than make the organization wait a year or more for first results. They have fairly humble initial requirements to get going as a result.
You can equate this to the new Sheriff not going after the whole organization of the three, corrupt cattle barons, but just the foreman of one of them for starters. With little cost involved, the Sheriff acquires some first-hand knowledge plus he sends a message, which will likely persuade others to be more cooperative going forward.
What do you think? Is new management the only way to implement drastic changes around customer experience, profitability or at least understanding?
Analyzing current business trends helps illustrate how difficult and complex the Communication Service Provider business environment has become. CSPs face many challenges. Clients expect high quality, affordable content that can move between devices with minimum advertising or privacy concerns. To illustrate this phenomenon, here are a few recent examples:
- Apple is working with Comcast/NBC Universal on a new converged offering
- Vodafone purchased the Spanish cable operator, Ono, having to quickly separate the wireless customers from the cable ones and cross-sell existing products
- Net neutrality has been scuttled in the US and upheld in the EU so now a US CSP can give preferential bandwidth to content providers, generating higher margins
- Microsoft’s Xbox community collects terabytes of data every day making effective use, storage and disposal based on local data retention regulation a challenge
- Expensive 4G LTE infrastructure investment by operators such as Reliance is bringing streaming content to tens of millions of new consumers
To quickly capitalize on “new” (often old, but unknown) data sources, there has to be a common understanding of:
- Where the data is
- What state it is in
- What it means
- What volume and attributes are required to accommodate a one-off project vs. a recurring one
When a multitude of departments request data for analytical projects with their one-off, IT-unsanctioned on-premise or cloud applications, how will you go about it? The average European operator has between 400 and 1,500 (known) applications. Imagine what the unknown count is.
A European operator with 20-30 million subscribers incurs an average of $3 million per month due to unpaid invoices. This often results from incorrect or incomplete contact information. Imagine how much you would have to add for lost productivity efforts, including gathering, re-formatting, enriching, checking and sending invoices. And this does not even account for late invoice payments or extended incorrect credit terms.
Think about all the wrong long-term conclusions that are being drawn from this wrong data. This single data problem creates indirect cost in excess of three times the initial, direct impact of unpaid invoices.
Want to fix your data and overcome the accelerating cost of change? Involve your marketing, CEM, strategy, finance and sales leaders to help them understand data’s impact on the bottom line.
Disclaimer: Recommendations and illustrations contained in this post are estimates only and are based entirely upon information provided by the prospective customer and on our observations and benchmarks. While we believe our recommendations and estimates to be sound, the degree of success achieved by the prospective customer is dependent upon a variety of factors, many of which are not under Informatica’s control and nothing in this post shall be relied upon as representative of the degree of success that may, in fact, be realized and no warranty or representation of success, either express or implied, is made.
As a routine matter of delivering care, billing for services and operating their hospitals and physician practices, healthcare providers deal with patient’s protected health information all day, every day. Dealing with the data becomes routine and it’s easy for sometimes onerous security and privacy policies and procedures to be overlooked. While we’d all like that not to be the case, delivering healthcare (and getting paid for it) is a hugely complex undertaking and focusing exclusively on human processes and calling for constant vigilance and attention to detail can only go so far. (more…)
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. (more…)
The establishment and maintenance of accurate customer data is the key to all revenue-generating events that a company has. A single key question is at the heart of this: Do you understand your customers? And good quality data is at the heart of the answer to the question.
As an extension every organization must know who its customers are, what do they want? What did they buy? This question appears straightforward, but it’s not uncommon for every department within a company – finance, sales, marketing, or customer service – to have a different answer because each has their own version of the customer data. (more…)
Now comes the fun part, inspecting the data. For this step, automated data profiling will help you identify actual problems with the data as they relate to business client expectations. Here are just a few possible issues:
- Are the phone numbers empty?
- Are the admission dates missing in inpatient hospital claims?
- Are there car loans with durations greater than 10 years?
- Do shipping records lack corresponding billing records?
- Do product descriptions differ only slightly?
- Are you delivering products to many different customers with the same address?
- What business rules are being violated? (more…)