To get ahead of the ever-growing competition in the telecom industry, Telecom providers need to deploy cutting-edge software solutions to cover their Telecom billing process, which needs to support the quote-order-cash business process. Firstly, telecom billing should be timely and accurate; this ensures that your clients or subscribers are happy and retained. Secondly, a bad customer experience can lead to a reduction in organizational revenue and loss of market share. A few examples of international telecom service provider companies include T-Mobile, Verizon, Vodacom, Telemach, and rest assured that all these organizations use state of the art Telecom Billing systems.
Telecom billing is a process deployed by telecom service providers while collecting consumption/usage information, to calculate billing fees or clients’ service use. The billing process also includes receiving payments from customers and recording them. Service providers automate telecom billing through the use of different software solutions. At the same time, Telecommunication providers must ensure that their billing system is impeccable to avoid losing their clients.
The most straightforward explanation of telecommunication is sending data from point to point via different transmission mediums. The transferred data types can range from voice, mobile data, SMS, internet, images, fax messages, and similar content. Secondly, Transmission mediums vary from copper wires, fiber optics, wireless connections, radio towers, and satellites.
To improve your understanding of telecom billing, let’s review some real-life applications where the use of billing services can be applied:
- Mobile Services
- Mobile users make voice calls, send text messages, and browse the web on their device. Afterwards ,they pay for these services and their subscriptions based on different billing types.
- Internet and TV Services
- Customers subscribed to internet and TV subscriptions can choose from different packages with different broadband speeds and channel options. They can purchase addons and one-time products.
- On-Demand Services
- Whether subscribed to a mobile plan or a TV package, most providers also offer on-demand services. Customers can purchase video pay-per-views, music albums, video-game credits, and many more.
- Cloud Computing
- Customers can set up customized remote server configurations with different amounts of assigned resources. In addition to their monthly or annual fees, each server use or data transfer can be charged separately as a service.
- IoT Services
- Smart appliance usage in smart homes can be billed as a service, either based on monthly fees or actual device data usage.
Billing Platform Features
Billing platforms are high-end software tools which provide extensive functionalities and flexibility. Their primary function is collecting money from customers, meaning we can view them as account receivables. In other cases, nevertheless, they also process inter-carrier settlements, serving as accounts payable as well. An example of an inter-carrier settlement would be when a customer uses services from other telecom organizations for long-distance calls or roaming.
The essential functions of a billing system include:
- Diverse business model support
- Business to customer, business to business, family hierarchies
- Innovative pricing
- Subscriptions, one-times, custom services, tariffs, tiered pricing
- Real-time balance management
- AAA – Authentication, Authorization, Accounting
- Detailed charging
- Rating versatility, discounting, taxation, charge sharing
- Billing and Invoicing
- Diverse billing cycles and invoice delivery
- Prepaid, postpaid, pay-as-you-go
- Disputes, refunds, and adjustments
- Financial management
- General ledgers, charts of accounts, payment collection, dunning
- Revenue assurance and real-time analytics
- Statistics, marketing graphs, cross-referencing
Telecom Billing Types
Different services call for different billing types. Also, different customers usually require different billing types. The provider of telecom services must recognize that and offer proper support to cover all of its scenarios. This diversity results in several different billing types, so let’s go over some of the more commonly used.
If the subscribers pay in advance for their services and are unable to use the service before they pay for it, then we are dealing with prepaid billing. During prepaid service usage, the billing system deducts the customer’s credit in real-time. In many cases, customers use a service over the month and pay for it on a monthly bill, leading us to postpaid billing. At the end of each postpaid billing cycle, the system generates invoices with due dates and delivers them to the customers. Sometimes the customer pays for each service use separately via his credit card, for example, which is the foundation of pay-as-you-go or pay-now billing. Providers often use pay-now billing for single data transfers or video content purchases.
Digging deeper into different billing types, we also come across interconnect billing, or partner settlements, where a company provides services through a partner. Roaming billing applies when a customer is moving between different operator’s networks and is usually a marginal charge. Finally, convergent billing is a combination of all of the above. Convergent billing relies on real-time usage event processing.
Quote-Order-Cash automated process
Let’s review a scenario from the customer’s point of view. Firstly, he is marked as a lead by a sales agent, offered a reasonable price for a service he wants, and decides to subscribe. After that, he has a monthly service plan, and he receives a bill each month for those services. A cycle ends with him settling his bill and the provider receiving those funds. We just described what is known as the quote-order-cash process, starting from Salesforce (or any other CRM), to customer creation and plan purchase in a billing platform (Tridens Monetization), to payment collection.
Telecom billing systems are a set of enterprise-level software tools used to automate the telecom billing process. Automation helps organizations reduce costs and improve billing accuracy. The system starts working the moment a customer purchases or subscribes to a service of a provider. The telecom billing system architecture should enable customers to track their account type, resource balances, history, and other vital billing information. Such systems essentially integrate several customer care aspects and impart billing-related information for vendors.
Many vendors use telecom billing systems to automate their billing process. Such vendors include wireless communication providers, telephone service providers, cable and satellite companies, internet service providers, and several others. The billing system, such as Tridens Monetization, offers various billing features. The most notable features next to convergent billing are recurring payments, credit refunds, discount coupons, reporting, analytics. It integrates with third-party software, tax engines, hardware, multiple networks, and payment gateways. The system also offers an API for integration and bulk operations.
What to Look for in Telecom Billing Software
There is a wide range of vendors today, which offer telecom billing services. Firstly, it is imperative that you critically analyze their telecom billing software before making your choice. It is crucial to carry out requirement gathering and feasibility studies to ensure that the system meets your organizational needs. Here are some factors you should consider.
Is the system scalable as a whole? What about billing software scalability? Is it easy enough to add or configure new modules and functionalities? Vertical and horizontal scalability is essential for the system to meet your business dynamics and the latest industry regulations. Modularization is vital in avoiding unnecessarily long configuration and improvement times. Can the system be integrated with third-party software? Good API coverage allows you to integrate it with different CRMs, Enterprise resource planners, gateways, and other solutions that you might already be using.
What about user experience? Is the system easy to learn and use? You should expect a small learning curve, but a system that requires large amounts of time to learn costs you much money. Look for well-built user interfaces, which are self-explanatory and intuitive. Your customers and employees love it when the user interface is easy to use and learn. Don’t forget to consider pricing options, as well. Is the system available as a subscribed service, or as a one-time license fee? A good telecom billing software should be flexible in terms of pricing, but you must take deployment options in account as well. Is the system cloud-based, installed on-premise, or a hybrid? Most cloud-based systems are sold as a service and come with continuous updates. Cloud-based systems are easily scalable and usually offer better pricing compared to hybrid or on-premise installments.
Billing Platform for the Cloud Era
When we were designing and developing our billing solution, the Tridens Monetization, we took all of the above into account. Tridens Monetization is cloud-based and offered as a service. We decided to take that approach because it undeniably is the next step in software solutions. A number of our clients were having issues with their old on-premise billing solutions, due to maintenance issues and requirements for manual patching and updating. Nevertheless, we are very flexible in offering our solution and take your wishes and requirements into account.
Tridens Monetization is horizontally and vertically scalable, ensuring high-performance processing and keeping up with your business and industrial needs. It is easy to integrate it with CRMs or other third-party applications, due to its well-implemented REST API. It comes with a payment gateway component, allowing you to connect to different payment providers, such as Braintree, Wirecard, Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.Net. Secondly, the tax gateway component also allows you to use third-party providers for tax calculation, such as Avalara or Suretax.
As a billing and rating system on its own, Tridens Monetization offers in-depth pricing design, customer and subscription management, and real-time rating. You can set up complex hierarchies, advanced usage-based pricing, and several discounting and sharing options. Additionally, all these features are available through a very intuitive user interface. If you’re on the hunt for a modern billing solution, feel free to contact us. Tridens Monetization might be just what you need.