Billing and collections. It’s not exactly a consumer’s favourite part of their relationship with their telecoms provider, but it is of course necessary.
Not approaching billing and collections in the right way can cause significant damage to the customer relationship, particularly if that customer has fallen into arrears.
Red letters and even being cut off causes a detriment that can run deep for many years and with the highly competitive nature of the telecoms industry, service providers, be they ISPs, fixed-line or mobile network operators, must approach this aspect of the customer relationship in new ways.
By making customer service the focal point of the collections team rather than 'Cash Collection’, Telecom companies can look to reduce customer churn, thereby improving their profitability in the long term. Technology solutions can help to do this.
Collections fundamentals must be ingrained in the DNA of a company’s processes right through the customer journey, from point of sale all the way to bill payment. This can help to prepare the collections team for any future correspondence.
For example, one way of doing this is by using technology to segment customers more intelligently, helping to categorise the various risk factors that customers may represent in regards to paying their bills.
One such risk area is whether a customer pays quarterly or monthly.
More generally, customers who choose to pay on a quarterly basis do not pay by direct debit, which can lead to them falling into arrears - often by accident.
Tactfully encouraging customers to change to monthly direct debit can help them to stay on top of their bills but also help telecoms to realise revenue early.
This kind of value-add customer service could also be enshrined at the first stage of the collections of arrears process.
If a customer pays an outstanding bill, offering to set up direct debit can take the worry off their mind for the future, should the non-payment have been accidental due to forgetfulness.
There are a number of other areas in which technology solution implementation can help to improve the customer service aspect of the collections team and process such as advanced notification of a surge in use, so 'Bill Shock’ does not take place; data collection and analysis to identify customer purchase, consumption and payment patterns to create actionable insights throughout the customer journey; or bill reduction for loyal, low risk customers.
Overall, billing and collections shouldn't just be about collecting money from customers.
It is about ensuring telecoms companies get their revenues on time whilst ensuring that the customer relationship is maintained.
Customers must feel like collections and billings is not just a headache, but see the department as a partner that can provide them with a first rate service whilst keeping their credit rating intact.