Invoices & Management Reporting | Major Billing Functions

Invoices

Invoices contain the details of how much the customer should pay to the carrier, when the amount is due, and other information regarding the bill. Invoices usually provide a customer with detailed information regarding the source of the charge (date and location), reasons for the charge (service provided), and the amount of the charge. Figure 1 shows a sample invoice.

Figure 1: Sample Invoice

Management Reporting

Management reports provide information to finance, sales, and operations on the performance of the system. Reports can identify problems such as, silent churn, potential new services, and network congestion. Churn is the process of customers disconnecting from one telecommunications service provider. Churn can be a natural process of customer geographic relocation or to may be the result of customers selecting a new service provider in their local area. Silent churn is the process of customers disconnecting from one telecommunications service provider due to a competitor’s influence. Silent churn is usually the result of inadequate customer service or lack of competitive rate plans. Customers that are transitioning to competitor’s services will show rapid declines in usage of service.

Management reporting can also be used to discover new services. By reviewing call patterns, churn and silent churn patterns, and customer feedback, managers can determine which new services may be good candidates for their system. CDRs and network activity can also indicate areas of network congestion and corrective measures (rerouting or adding resources) can be accomplished to overcome the challenge.

Invoicing

Invoicing is the process of gathering of items to be billed (rated CDRs) that have occurred over an invoice period, adding additional charges and credits that are not related to specific calls, and preparing the information (formatting) so it may be presented to the customer in a clear way. Invoices may be delivered by mail or in other formats such as by email (e-commerce).

Processing Payments

Processing payments involves collecting assets to settle the customer’s invoices. The typical form of payments that are received from customers include checks, cash, wire transfer, credits, and credit cards. However, other payments or credits may be applied to the customers account.

Recording the payment to the customer’s account is called posting. Posting usually involves using a payment coupon that has an account number on it and posting the received amount of money to the account. In the ideal situation, the customer has provided the payment coupon with the correct amount. In other cases, the customer may have not included the payment coupon or may pay a different amount than indicated. In this case, posting of payments may result in errors such as posting to the wrong account or applying payment new invoices instead of old invoices.

Posting to the Financial System

The billing system records and groups financial details (receivables and payables) for the company. Periodically, summary information is transferred into the general journal of the company’s accounting system. This summary posting groups different types of billing charges into summary totals to be posted to different financial accounts. These types of accounts include receivables or expenses and each account is assigned a unique number (in the financial chart of accounts). For example, payments received by credit card are usually categorized differently than payments received by cash and these totals will be recorded in accounts with different account numbers.

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