Telecom Billing - Customer Acquisition
A customer is a "legal entity" (that can be either an individual or a company) that takes the products and services offered by the service provider and responsible for paying the bills. In a residential billing scenario, a customer might be a single householder. In a business billing scenario, a customer might be a corporation.
Individual customers . An individual customer is a single person (or household) who buys one or more products and pay the bills. There would not be any hierarchy required to maintain customer or account.
Company customers . A company customer is a single company, or branch of a company. There could be a typical parent and child type of customer hierarchy representing different branches or departments of the company.
Customer Acquisition Process:
Customer Acquisition is the process of identifying, attracting and retaining potentially profitable customers. This is handled using a system called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which is one of the important business support system (BSS).
A CRM system would always be connected with various systems including Billing System and feeds customer personal data, product and service information to the billing system.
A customer who is purchasing the products & services needs to be activated in the system and for this various details about the customer are required:
The customer may have to fill up an application form providing personal detail.
Validate the identity of the customer in order to prevent fraud.
Service Provider need to carry out a credit check on the customer and assign appropriate credit class based on credit history and monthly income etc.
Offer appropriate products which are provisioned at the network to provide the service.
Once the customer is acquired, it is required to manage and retain the customer which involves:
Interacting & communicating with the customer for sales and collection activities.
These interactions can be recorded in different formats like Notes, voice recordings etc., This data can be used to analyze the behavior of the customer and helps the service provider to better services in order to retain the customer
Handling trouble tickets raised by the customer against any problem they face with the network or invoice etc. This data can also be used to analyze the behavior of the customer and helps the service provider for the betterment of the services in order to retain the customer.
Handling any bill disputes and adjustments raised in between the customer and service provider.
Customer Life Cycle
A typical customer life cycle is shown below in the following diagram:
All the phases comprising a customer life are briefed here:
Customer Engagement: The customer contacts the CSR (Customer Service Representative) and the CSR engages the customer with the various products and services offers by selling them to the customer.
Order Creation and fulfillment: The customer takes the product(s) and services(s) and the CSR creates and completes the order into the system which is then fullfiled by supplying required product and services to the customer.
Service Provisioning: The products and services are provisioned at the network using a system called Provisioning System. The Provisioning System informs the network about the customer.s information and the services they are authorized to use. In fact this activates the customer on the network.
Products Utilization: Once the customer is activated on the network, the customer starts using the products & services, like making a call or data download etc.
Products and services usage is Rated & Billed: Customer usage is collected from the network and then it is rated based on the defined rate plans and billed to apply product rentals and required discounts, adjustments etc.
Bill Delivery: Once a bill is generated, it is delivered to the end customer demanding for the revenue against the services provided.
Bill Payments: Customer makes the payments against the received invoices.
Dunning & Collection: There may be many customers who will not pay their bills on time. For such type of customers, different dunning letters are sent to remind them about their payment. If customer does not pay on time then different collections are taken starting from stopping customer service one by one.
Customer Termination: There may be various reasons when it is required to terminate a customer in the system. For example, customer may be migrating to different location, or customer may not be happy with the services provided etc.
One a given date, total number of active customers in the system are called customer base. Adding a customer into the system, terminating a customer from the system, I mean customer addition and deletion in the customer base is called customer churn.
Typically there are following types of customers in today's telecom market:
Mobile Pre-Paid Customers: These are the customers who use Mobile services by paying their charges in advance. For example GSM, GPRS phone users. These customer recharge their phone based on their requirement.
Mobile Post-Paid Customers: These are the customers who use Mobile services by paying their charges after every invoice they receive. For example GSM, GPRS phone users. These customer pays their bills on monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Fixed Pre-Paid Customers: These are the customers who use Fixed line ie. landline services by paying their charges in advance. For example PSTN, WiMax phone users. These customer recharge their phone based on their requirement.
Fixed Post-Paid Customers: These are the customers who use Fixed line ie. landline services by paying their charges after every invoice they receive. For example PSTN, WiMax phone users. These customer pays their bills on monthly or bi-monthly basis.
What is next?
Now we have customers in out billing system along with products and services. Customer start utlizing all the products and service bought and start generating national and international, data and voice calls. Which will be rated and billed by the billing system and I will explain those processes in coming chapters.