You have 6 billing systems and 42 bill cycles? No problem!
One thing we continually hear from the market is the need to provide an integrated billing experience. Some of the most advanced companies, in terms of products and services, are still operating in silos when it comes to the invoicing and payments of their business customers. Why? Because migrating to a single billing system is hard…and expensive…and time intensive.
And to be frank, sometimes unrealistic. We have countless examples of companies launching these big bang consolidation initiatives – which can cost upwards of $500M – with little to show at the end (if the project ever reaches an end state).
The alternative or parallel approach is to look at billing integration from an experience versus a system perspective. At the end of the day, your customers don’t care what’s happening with your back-end infrastructure as long as they’re receiving accurate and timely bills. And with a direct tie between low customer satisfaction ratings and poor billing experiences, it’s imperative that you give your customers and internal teams what they need to operate efficiently – now, not in years.
So how do you bring together 6 billing systems and 42 bill cycles into an integrated digital billing experience?
1. Start by defining the ideal digital billing experience – and then work backwards.
What do your customers need from you in order to accelerate the bill payment process? What digital tools make it easier for them to access, analyze, allocate, pay, and reconcile your invoices?
Don’t get bogged down in trying to translate what you have today into what customers need. Trust me – you have all of the right data. You just need to provide your customers with a better way to act on it.
2. Next, use a billing ‘mediator’ to bring together your billing and customer experts.
Each system, process and segment comes with its own team of experts, objectives, resulting bill outputs, and most likely, some legacy hang ups. It’s imperative to have someone overseeing the data integration and guiding all teams towards the same end goal.
Although a digital integration is far less invasive than a physical merging of systems, it still requires an extensive review of the varying data elements. For example, while one system may use a 3 tiered billing structure, another may use 5 tiers. Or while one may refer to monthly charges as ‘monthly charges’, another may use the term ‘recurring charges’. Although these nuances seem minute, it’s this amalgamation that ultimately results in a consistent and easy experience for the customer.
3. Caution – be prepared for the system and process rabbit holes.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard ‘I didn’t know we had a specific reporting system for that’ or ‘I didn’t realize there was a specific process for that’.
Billing is complex and its reach extends far beyond the actual billing systems. As you begin translating all of the varying systems and processes – to ultimately create a unified ‘language’ for your customers and internal operations – you’re bound to uncover some unknowns. Document, document, document and keep your eyes on the prize of ‘what is best for the customer’.
4. And remember, perfection is the ultimate staler – start with a baseline and build.
If you were your own customer, would you rather have access to 75% of your bills online now or 0% while you wait for 100%? Yes, business customers are fed up with the hoops and ladders they have to go through to pay your invoices today but believe it or not, they also understand the complexity you’re trying to simplify.
It would be ideal to have all systems integrated and available on day one but sometimes that’s just not feasible. Prioritize the big wins (which systems host the majority of data for majority of business base), communicate the evolving experience, and get customers on board with your digital journey.
Ready to see the art of what’s possible? Contact us today to see a live demo of this integrated and interactive billing experience.
Ask about our products, experience, implementation, or anything else. Our data and adoption experts are here to help you find the best solution for you and your customers.
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