Creating a competitive advantage with billing

How can resellers and MSPs add value through billing? Harry McKeever, managing director of Tekton Billing, shares his view.

What comes to mind when talking about a telecoms billing system? You may naturally think invoicing, revenue assurance and margin optimisation. Indeed, a billing system is integral to accurately invoicing customers and managing complex revenue streams. However, it is capable of doing so much more.

The billing experience is an area that is often overlooked in creating competitive advantage. Despite this, a modern and intelligent billing system can help differentiate a business and add significant value. For Channel Partners, it is the most important piece of software they have within their internal systems.

In this article, we discuss how resellers and service providers can increase sales, reduce costs, increase productivity and optimise margins through their billing system.

Increasing sales

The right customer portal can greatly affect customer perception. A fully branded customer portal with self-service functionality, personalised branding and custom URLs can help a business stand out from the crowd, boosting brand credibility and driving sales.

Moreover, a billing system that is capable of integrating all your IT and telecom services under one invoice, provides a seamless customer experience and real USP. Again, this feeds into brand perception and customer satisfaction which drives sales.

In addition to new sales, a billing system can also be an incredibly powerful multi-channel marketing platform for up-selling and cross-selling to your already captive audience. For example, targeted pop up marketing messages delivered through your customer portal can create genuine cross-selling opportunities.

Reducing costs

In a fiercely competitive industry where the commoditisation of connectivity services is driving end-user pricing as low as possible, reducing costs is a key factor for the long term success of all resellers.

When it comes to billing and reducing costs, a billing platform has a huge part to play. The ability to buy data in bulk and disconnect your billing from your wholesale supplier and retail customer enables you to reap economies of scale and manipulate pricing.

You can also reduce billing overheads with advanced self-serve functionality, allowing end users to check their own usage, set spent limits, create alerts, manage bolt-ons and even perform SIM swaps.

Empowering customers in this way reduces the need for large headcounts in your support team, cutting your billing overheads and costs.

Increasing productivity

A modern, wizard-led billing platform that allows for bulk management of data and automation enables users to bulk remove and replace services, all in just a few clicks.

These efficiencies not only increase productivity and reduce billing overheads, they take human error out of the equation, resulting in more accurate bills and better cashflow. Self-serve functionality is another area that can significantly increase productivity and reduce costs.

Furthermore, the importance of intelligent reporting shouldn’t be underestimated. Telecoms billing is awash with data, from which valuable insights can be learnt.

However, the right platform is required to translate and visualise this data into actionable insights. An effective billing system provides intelligent and automated reporting to help identify loss-making services, unallocated services and high-margin charges.

This helps increase productivity and allows for better decision making, enabling you to focus on the activities that drive revenue to your business.

Optimising margins

Now more than ever, Channel partners need to squeeze every penny out of their margins to secure stable, long-term commercial success. A billing system can help to maximise margins by streamlining billing processes, improving accuracy and providing valuable insights.

The ability to set complex tariff and rating capabilities provides an essential disconnect between wholesale and retail which allows resellers to refine their commercial strategy. It gives resellers the flexibility to restructure propositions, optimise bundles and package items to be sold on a retail basis which can be entirely different to the purchased wholesale proposition.

Similarly, the ability to purchase group data bundles from network suppliers and rebundle them for individual end-customer accounts is paramount. This results in classic economies of scale and greater buying power, enabling cheaper data purchase.

Finally, billing systems have a key role to play in invoice reconciliation. Pre-invoice checks that cover call files, usage charges, suppliers, supplier charges, credit and periodic charges are critical to ensuring all revenue is accounted for.

Billing is a critical part of any business. However, an effective billing solution should do so much more than simply produce accurate and timely invoices.

It is a clear avenue to creating competitive advantage, helping to increase sales, reduce costs, improve productivity and even optimise margins.

This opinion piece appeared in our June 2023 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.