by Patrick Elliott, VP of Marketing at Rev.io (https://rev.io/)
Through all of the woes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to entire sectors of our economy, one business segment is seeing a significant boost: Communications Service Providers (CSPs).
A recent survey from IBM shows that 54% of US workers would like remote to be their primary way of working moving forward. Due to this mass shift to work-from-home, the demand from businesses for high-speed Unified Communications platforms has never been stronger. Because cloud-based systems are quicker to provision, configure, and scale, that is where we expect the bulk of the action will remain. Even with this opportunity, however, some companies may ink contracts that will hurt their long-run bottom line.
How can that be?
The positive news about efficient subscription billing is that, once CSPs have hooked up a new revenue stream, they shouldn’t need to be overly concerned with cash flow. But, if those accounts are not properly configured to capture all the component charges—fees, taxes and surcharges—providers will leave profit on the table every month. In extreme cases, certain accounts will become outright money losers.
That’s not what CSPs went into business for.
To make the most of this unique situation, CSPs need to make sure they have configurable automated tools to set up accounts for maximum profitability. That means having robust CPQ capabilities and, most importantly, a subscription billing platform equipped to handle all of the elements that Unified Communications invoices and statements present.
In some ways, working with a cloud-based platform makes the profit-leak trap even easier to fall into. While provisioning a new account can be accomplished through a single dashboard with minimal switching between applications, it’s easy to apply the wrong rate structure, misapply discounts, or overlook accounting for some charges altogether.
On the other end of the equation, bills that overcharge customers can lead to disputes that drive up service costs and erode account relations.
A platform designed explicitly for subscription billing of communications services—including integration with CPQ and customer management applications—is the only practical way to assure that the billing matches the contract and actual services delivered.
Another virtue of an integrated billing system is the analytics it enables. CSPs can quickly identify usage patterns, weed out inefficiencies, and help management spot business growth opportunities. Because a billing solution should serve as the hub of the company’s operations, the 360-degree view of the business that it enables can help executives optimize their entire company. The more profit a company captures, the more resources it has to invest in growth. The less time spent on billing, the more time there is to execute on growth initiatives.
At first glance, the stress test that the current crisis is putting CSPs through may seem like an ideal problem to have. But if it results in low-margin recurring billing, that’s not a problem anyone wants. On the other hand, if this situation inspires CSPs to re-evaluate their legacy billing software or paper-based processes, that could lead to a long-lasting opportunity extending far past this (hopefully short-lived) pandemic.