on 22 August 18
Billing and operations are two integral processes of all businesses. The customer engagement process starts from the first point of contact of the customer to the end of customer life cycle, till he receives his services from the organization. The customer is handled by the billing and operations support system or the customer relationship management system throughout its life with the organization. Customer service can be improved by managing all the three systems well and by synchronizing their activities together. The billing support system provides support to the customers in the form of catalogs, order management and billing systems. The operation support system helps the customers with service activation and assurance. The operation support system also helps the client in maintaining the minimum level of inventory. The customer relationship management (CRM) system on the other hand provides information about the existing and prospective customers and helps in retaining loyal customers.
There are numerous software applications that help the service providers in delivering services to the customers conveniently. The important modules of a billing support system are product catalogs, order management and billing. The billing systems have to constantly upgrade themselves to integrate with the new complex service models. New strategic collaborations with other organizations and integrated payment plans, have made it imperative for billing systems to be flexible, customization and yet accurate and effective. The new billing systems should have the following features:
1. Customizable: They should be able to integrate well with new payment methods and complex service models. With the ever changing technologies, only a highly flexible system will be able to integrate itself with the existing legacy systems.
2. Multi-currency: With possible external collaborations between organizations, the systems have to advance themselves to be able to accept multiple currencies. Payment options like eWallets and mWallets should also be made permissible by billing systems.
3. Multi-channel: Systems should be able to capitalize on the mobile applications and social media sites for placing orders. With the rise in the use of smart phones, there is a huge potential for generating sales through mobile applications or social media marketing.
4. Real time information about products: Creating a web portal that provides complete information about products and their uses, is appreciated by customers. Such portals can be built by maintaining customer information in the form of a knowledge base, and by applying analytics on customer preferences and strategize on billing solutions or order management.
The operation support system maintained by contact centers support activities like inventory management, service activation and service assurance. After the billing system places the order, the customer account is transferred to the operation support system for further processing. Here the services are executed and monitored, and any faults with the services are escalated to the billing or CRM system for further handling. The use of analytics is imperative in the inventory module because of its critically. If proper inventory is not maintained, it may cause the organization to lose some of its potential customers. Analytics are used here to identify the minimum level of inventory, as anticipated by the present level of demand, and is further shared with the production department. OSS also activates services and assures continued services through regular monitoring and compliance of service level agreements. The use of technology helps the service providers in monitoring the continued availability of services and anticipating any downtime that may hinder continued service.
The final component of contact centers is the CRM. CRM builds better and stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers. Numerous tools and software are commercially available in the market for CRM and social media monitoring. Selecting the correct tool that integrates with other systems is important to foster synchronization between all processes. Some of the benefits of using a suitable CRM software and analytics are mentioned below.
1. Executing campaigns: CRM provides information about the existing and prospective customers of the organization. This helps the marketing teams in identifying strategically relevant and significant target audience for their campaigns. This reduces the campaign costs, as focus is maintained for the target audience and also ensures personalized service for the smaller audience.
2. Better up and cross selling of products: Maintaining information about the customers helps the organizations know their customers better. This helps representatives to identify the product and services customers might be more interested in. A better bundle of product and services can be customized and offered to the customers for lead generation.
3. Better customer engagement: Organizations understand that engaging customers throughout their life cycle is important for ensuring customer loyalty. Maintaining information about the customer helps in building better customer engagement programs.
4. Anticipate trends: The wide customer information can be analyzed and mined using reports, dashboards and KPIs to identify important business information about future trends and opportunities. This provides interesting information to the management relevant for their marketing campaigns, product development and customer reward policies.
5. Integrated services: CRM monitors the customer interaction through voice, email, chat and social media channels to provide a complete view of the customers and their preferences. This provides a personalized profile of the customer, which helps in servicing them efficiently.
All the three systems are interrelated and support each other in execution of critical activities related with customer retention. Organizations should choose these systems wisely to ensure that they support each other and provide efficient services to their customers.