Have you ever tried to put your fingers in an electrical socket? No? Good. And please don’t try it. Trust us, it will not energise you (don’t believe the Matrix movie. Humans are not good batteries). What about being angry when you get an invoice from your Communications Service Provider: ever felt that? If you haven’t, kudos to your CSP and its Billing and Revenue Management team. They are doing a good job.
But if you already had that tingling feeling… well, you’ve just been a victim of bill shock! And the symptoms are not that different from putting your finger in a plug. Bill shock happens when you get an invoice from a service provider and… surprise… the value is not at all what you expected.
Charging, Billing and Payments are a very sensible part of the relationship between CSPs and their customers. Errors in the invoice, unexpected charges, even difficulty understanding what you are being charged for; may lead to severe customer dissatisfaction and hugely increase the probability of churn.
In the end, it all boils down to a critical disturbance in customer experience, triggered by one of the most fundamental human emotions: Trust.
The fact is, besides all the legal small words in a formal contract between a customer and the Communications Service Provider (CSP), there is an underlying, more important relationship one must consider. A relationship of trust. That you, as a customer, will get the service you asked for, for its expected, fair value.
All the Business Support Systems (BSS) are, at their heart, built to cater to this intimate relationship between the CSP and its customers. That is why we at Celfocus build Customer and Revenue Management systems to manage our relations with customers; why we create direct and transparent Channels to communicate with them; it is why we promote swift and accurate Integration between systems of engagement and systems of record; why we Analyse customer behaviour and promote the best and most suitable offers for them… and in the end, why we create Revenue Management solutions to bill customers for a correct and fair value.
Bill shock insulation
Overall, the responsibility to make sure that customers are correctly and fairly invoiced is of the entire BSS ecosystem… but it all falls down to the Revenue Management domain. Billing is the gatekeeper of this relationship of trust between the customer and the service provider, policing what the customer asked for, what he is expecting to pay and what he is being charged for.
Celfocus takes this very seriously – in fact, billing reliability is rooted in what we do in any project we deliver and every service we provide. That is why we have designed the Celfocus Bill Parallel Run Framework, which we employ in our billing transformation projects – making sure that, when major transformations occur in billing, CSP customers have a seamless experience, with no surprises (used, for example, in our worries-free Go Live for the Vodafone Turkey Genesis program).
We promote the execution of bill reviews, in day-to-day operations – using smart samples of invoices to validate that new customers and new price plans behave as expected, while regression testing legacy customers and offers.
We produce “high usage” analytic reports during the bill cycle execution, to identify outlier customers with outstanding charges compared to average spending – which can then be handled personally by Customer Operations.
We created Celfocus Unified Bill View (UBV) to increase the transparency and readability of customer’s invoices, applying rules to clarify billed data with context sensitive messages – for example, highlighting a prorated subscription charge on a new service – delivering the same, exact billing information in all customer channels, from the typical invoice to selfcare apps.
But we want more. We want to be proactive.
We want to be able to identify bill shocked customers before they even look at the bill and help the CSPs make strong and lasting impressions.
And how can we do that?
Rather than waiting for inevitable upset calls from customers, we help CSPs anticipate these calls and give them the possibility to reach customers first and ease these concerns.
With Celfocus Cognitive Care solution, we use machine learning techniques, allowing us to analyse customer usage patterns, identify anomalous situations that lead to crazy bills, whether it was due to extra data charges caused by Netflix streaming and YouTube kids videos, or by paid roaming during a snow trip in Andorra, a non-EU country.
With this information in hand, CSPs can make life easier for their customers by sending notices explaining a particular bill, suggesting a more suitable tariff plan, and recommending targeted campaigns. Within a proactive approach, CSPs will be able to not only establish stronger ties with customers, but also contribute to a more positive environment in call centres. Agents will definitely appreciate a lower volume of angry and frustrated bill shock calls and be happy to provide a better service.
The value of bill shock prevention is undeniable. According to a study by Australian Telsyte analyst firm, “findings show that people who have experienced bill shock are two and a half times more likely to change providers”.
The negative effect on Net Promoter Score (NPS) is also obvious. Looking at Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, one can easily conclude that the emotional effect of bill shock is directly opposed to the customer emotions any CSP wishes to achieve.
Or if you prefer the wise words of Jedi Grand Master Yoda, when he received his invoice with intergalactic roaming from Tatooine to Dagobah: “Bill shock leads to anger. Anger leads to hate… Hate leads… to the dark side”.
So, fighting the negative aspects of bill shock is a challenge. But there’s an even greater challenge… creating positive emotions out of billing and making a customer happy when receiving an invoice – this is the next step to customer experience excellence.
And it’s all about transparency, fairness and proactively delighting the customer. It’s about putting billing data in the customer’s hands. It’s about showing the value earned from the relationship with the CSP.
It’s moving from trust to admiration.
Remember this the next time you are absorbed in your new BSS project. You are not just building a system. You are not just providing a solution. You are creating emotions.