Multi-Play Not Multi Bills!

Andy Wilson, Vice President Sales and Marketing, CTI Group, formerly known as Ryder Systems, discusses the importance of billing for multi-play services and its affect on customer satisfaction.

With a huge launch campaign, Virgin Media is the latest provider to announce its arrival in the multi-play provider arena. The fact that multi-play offers a variety of services through a single connection is great for customers, however, if simplicity is the key, why aren?t multi-play operators providing a single consolidated bill that covers all services instead of separate monthly invoices?

Convergence is changing the shape of the telecoms market, with single services being replaced by an ever greater number of products. Even the days of telephone and internet provision being the sole preserve of telcos have disappeared, with the arrival of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), such as Tesco and Sky.

By offering different bundles - telephone, mobile, broadband and television - service providers are eager to gain a larger market share in sectors in which they weren?t previously involved. The customer wins with consolidated services all received through one company, with only one point of contact when necessary. One provider also removes the need to search for the best individual deals and eases the upkeep of the packages.

Much to the detriment of many multi-play providers though, separate bills are still being created for each of the different services, creating an inefficient and expensive process for the provider, as well as causing bewilderment and frustration for the customer. This confusion is all the more understandable when viewing some of the multi-play packages available. Tesco Telecoms offers landline, mobile and internet phone options and broadband. However, without a single inclusive package, the services are kept separate with individual monthly bills. Even companies that do offer all inclusive packages don?t necessarily offer single bills. For example Vodafone ?At Home? offers broadband and a landline with free local and national calls, but no consolidated bill is sent out for these services.

It is interesting to note that Virgin Media?s Chief Executive, Steve Burch, personally discovered the importance of billing when, as CEO of NTL, he appeared on the BBC to answer customers? questions. One main theme was prevalent throughout ? invoices, and the need to improve and simplify the billing service. Virgin Media can be seen to be making progress towards better billing with some, though not all, of their services being billed together.

The expectation from the customer is for a single, clear and comprehensive bill for all services received through the same supplier, otherwise the key benefit of ease of use and time-saving is completely lost through the invoicing process. Billing has often been overlooked in comparison to the development of new technologies. However, with the advent of triple and quadruple (and certainly more in the future) play, it has never been such a major component in customer satisfaction, and with customer churn nearly three times lower with triple services than for single ones , a happy relationship is a profitable one.

With an increase in MVNOs entering the market, competition is fiercer than ever. Only those with optimum service offerings will increase their market share, with those who get it right first gaining a huge market advantage. For those who don?t react to this situation, the future looks uncertain ? customers can move quickly and easily to a rival provider.

Time, effort and money are necessary to send out bills each month, whereas an all-inclusive solution removes the need for these outlays. It increases customer relations and satisfaction, and the money saved can be better spent developing innovative billing solutions.
As a specialist in billing solutions, CTI Group recognises the importance of single bills for multi-play operators and appreciates the value of customers being able to understand and examine their invoices, especially when different services are involved. ?Dynamic Reports? from CTI Group has been developed to quash the frustrations of providers and end-users, allowing the former to simultaneously match customers? expectations and steal a march on competitors.

Delivered securely to the customer?s inbox or accessible through the web, ?Dynamic Reports? contains an electronic bill plus interactive bill analysis reports which detail all multi-play services from the same supplier. The analysis function offers complete breakdowns of relevant costs in the form of statistics, 3D graphs and interactive charts. Users can ?drill down? further to individual itemised lines for comprehensive examination of the invoice down to the smallest detail. These innovative features result in fewer customer queries for the operators, thereby reducing the costs associated in resolving them.

As well as the obvious cost savings by sending bills electronically, ?Dynamic Reports? offers a unique marketing opportunity. Advertising banners within the solution allow for personalised marketing to the customer - for example if a customer is spending considerably on international calls, a banner promoting international call tariff, with hyperlinks back to the provider website for more information would be included. This presents an extremely effective and low-cost, direct advertising route.

Implementing single bills for multi-play services provides operators with the opportunity to not only gain a competitive edge, but also to push their own inclusive packages. Failure to do so could result in a much more extreme scenario ? current customers could be lost as well as sacrificing new business opportunities.

Improving billing has long been high on the agenda, but service providers do not seem to be reacting to this, missing out on ever rarer opportunities to gain a competitive advantage. Customers are quite clear about their expectations when it comes to billing, so why do the operators seem to ignore them? It is necessary for this situation to improve, and ?Dynamic Reports? can help lead the way.


Contact Details

Company Name: Ryder Systems
Issued By: Rob Boella
Phone: 020 8339 7440
Website: Visit the website

by Rob Boella (few years ago!)

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