Overview | Billing and Customer Care

Billing and customer care systems convert the bits and bytes of digital information within a network into the money that will be received by the service provider. To accomplish this, these systems provide account activation and tracking, service feature selection, selection of billing rates for specific calls, invoice creation, payment entry and management of communication with the customer.

Billing and customer care systems are the link between end users and the telecommunications network equipment. Telecommunications service providers manage networks, setup the networks to allow customers to transfer information (provisioning), and bill end users for their use of the system. Customers who need telecommunication services select carriers by evaluating service and equipment costs, reviewing the reliability of the network, and comparing how specific services (features) match their communication needs. Because most network operations have access to systems with the same technology, The billing and customer care systems are the key methods used to differentiate one service provider from another because most network operations have access to systems with the same technology.

There are many different types of services to be supplied and billed. These include traditional voice, short messaging, fax, data communications, and information services. Billing systems process the usage of network equipment that is used during the call (events) into a single Call Detail Record (CDR). The billing process involves receiving billing records from various networks, determining the billing rates associated with the billing records, calculating the cost for each billing record, aggregating these records periodically to produce invoices, sending invoices to the customer, and recording payments received from the customer.

Customer care systems, sometimes known as provisioning systems, provide customer service representatives (CSRs) with tools to assist and standardizes communication with the customer.

Billing system costs can be a substantial percentage of revenues collected. In addition to the initial acquisition cost of computers and software, operational costs are very high. Of the service provider’s staff, 20%-30% directly or indirectly provide billing and customer care support.

There are many billing standards that have been developed for telecommunications networks. Because the services offered by different types of network operators (e.g. cable television compared to local telephone companies) are beginning to overlap, billing standards are also converging.

Future trends and challenges for billing systems include new types of services to bill for, telephone number portability that complicates account identification numbers, and increased customer self care to reduce the burden (and cost) of billing systems.

Figure 1 shows an overview of a billing and customer care system. This diagram shows the key steps for billing systems. First, the network records events that contain usage information (for example, connection time) that is related to a specific call. Next, these events are combined and reformatted into a single call detail record (CDR). Because these events only contain network usage information, the identity of the user must be matched (guided) to the call detail record and the charging rate for the call must be determined. After the total charge for the call is calculated using the charging rate, the billing record is updated and is sent to a bill pool (list of ready-to-bill call records). Periodically, a bill is produced for the customer and as payments are received, they are recorded (posted) to the customer’s account.

Figure 1: Billing and Customer Care System.
Source: The Billing College

1 comment:

Danielle said...

When a billing and customer care system was properly developed. It would definitely be helpful to the industry. This would be very informative for developers. Thanks for the share. Keep us posted.

Danielle

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