IT heads and CIOs at enterprises have started realizing the importance of investment in billing processes as they develop omni-channel communications strategy.
The idea behind omni-channel communications is that a business or organization can interact with its customers over all possible communications channels, including email, online chats, messaging applications and even social media networks.
Modern omni-channel methods leverage real-time analytics to better understand customer behavior and trends. For example, omni-channel communications can provide customers with accurate and custom information about the services they use and suggest possible options to improve their experience and lower their costs.
“These methods help improve customer loyalty and reduce churn. In telecom markets, for example, we see that service providers increasingly use this strategy to propose data-driven offerings based on the customer profile and usage patterns,” said Val Morozov, vice president for Products at LogNet Billing.
The role of billing
Billing is an integral part of the overall customer experience, providing functions for service ordering, provisioning and delivery. With dynamic configuration in real-time, omni-channel communications can allow customers to have full control over the services selection and any changes that impact the billing calculations.
According to LogNet Billing, IT departments at organizations can turn service delivery, customer experience management and billing into competitive advantages by integrating modern billing practices into their omni-channel communications.
Modern billing solutions provide cutting edge innovations to support the need of the complex network of seamlessly connected components. It helps the enterprise landscape evolve by supporting the future needs of the billing and communication patterns, while having a full control over the defining business processes.
A typical billing system can include a façade that allows agents to seamlessly connect to customers, a backend module that supports real-time processing of customer data and a combination of physical and digital communication channels, including chatbots.
Suggestions to IT heads
Omni-channel communications are integrated with billing processes and systems to ensure that customers get a secure and effortless payment method available to them. Customers have the flexibility to pay through their desired channels – retail stores, credit cards, mobile wallets, online banking, auto debit and the like, which simplify bill payments and collection process.
The deployment of effective billing integration into omni-channel communications will assist IT heads to ensure reduction in revenue loss, while increase in profitability.
Before enterprises invest in omni-channel communication technology, they must determine which benefits will yield the greatest returns. They can do this by honing in on what matters most to customers, says Pete Slease, principal executive advisor at Gartner.
Enterprises should consider factors such as local market standards to understand which method suits the sales, marketing and billing activities of that specific market. For example, a rural market with limited access to credit cards may respond negatively to billing processes that require credit card payments.
Secondly, it is important to analyze historical trends to understand how customers access their services and billing information and how they responded to changes. The processes will give insights on whether they prefer completely digital channels or those augmented with a traditional paper trail.
It can also reveal vital trends or unique set of expectations from customers. “We have found that in certain markets, customers prefer online chat to phone conversations because they find it easier to connect online than through calls to a customer service center,” Val Morozov said.
As regulatory landscape grows more complex, enterprises are required to adopt an omni-channel strategy that complies with the new regulatory requirements and safeguard sensitive customer data. They should be able to tap into the data streams of the unified value chain shared with third parties and evaluate the security of their systems.
It is important to remove the information silos present in the systems to facilitate seamless collaboration across the entire channels.
Research agency Ovum said in a report that departmental, product, channel and information silos all have a negative impact on the quality of the customer experience.
Enterprises should also consider integrating real-time analytics to improve the omni-channel experience to customers.
Billing requirements for omni-channel communications
CIOs should make sure that omni-channel communication channels can be trusted and that they can provide prompt and accurate billing data for both the actual and projected use. The communications channels should be able to deliver the information when the customers need it and through their preferred communications channel.
The billing solution should have a mature set of features like configurable workflows, automated real-time simulations and routing. At the same time, it must include open and cloud-native APIs that help in embedding the billing information into omni-channel communications and support the future changes of the business processes on a strategic level.
“Our MaxBill solution support all of this in its core and allows for fast deployments for our service provider customers to gain immediately value,” Val Morozov said.
The topmost challenge while enabling multiple channels of communications is to provide a centralized core element of the complete solution where business data, with its policies, rules and process workflows, is defined.
“This is crucial to ensure that billing data streams, which form the essential part of the customer data context, are processed together along with the communication scenarios,” said Val Morozov.
It will ensure the correctness and usefulness of the information and mitigate the risk of having methods that provide inconsistent data.
“With the centralized product and service catalog our MaxBill solution helps in keeping the business logic and rules at one place, while the process definitions support various elements in customer management value chain including service ordering, provisioning and delivery, as well as the complete monetization end-to-end scenarios,” said Val Morozov.
According to him, MaxBill is designed to deliver end-to-end monetization solution for billing scenarios supporting any kind of chargeable services, while keeping the business definitions at its core. The solution comes with best practices and templates that allow connecting partners and other solutions in a network to achieve an optimal omni-channel strategy and rollout.