This fully joined up package should be able to extract raw data, build profiles, and feed into sales, marketing and inventory management, providing real-time actionable intelligence that can be used to rapidly turn out targeted offers and bundled services. A start to an intuitive customer relationship based on understanding needs without the customer needing to make contact. This could take the form of registering that a customer is close to their limit of texts, for instance, and being able to offer an add on for a nominal amount in a non-intrusive way.
Benefitting both parties
This use of billing as sales tool is not new in the industry, but it has rarely been used effectively. Boosting user revenues is not about the hard sell or aggressive persuasion. It is about profiting from established relationships, exploiting a position of trust in a way that benefits both parties. Operators secure revenues beyond the term of contracts and customers have their lives enhanced through superior communication services.
By showing a deeper empathy with their customers by respecting their personal situations, operators can foster a sense of loyalty that can help protect them against handset-driven churn - the changing of service providers based on exclusive handsets. On a more basic level, effective billing can also provide customers with accurate information about their own spending, developing trust in the service providers' operation, and avoiding the misguided estimated bill headlines commonly associated with utility companies.
We have seen increasing evidence service providers are in a position of becoming a consumer's technology partner. In an age of converged digital media, no other industry has this level of trust. PC manufacturers build products; customers buy them in one-off payments, and use them autonomously. Games console manufacturers have a similar role. Updates and upgrades can encourage a customer to buy, depending on the customer's experience of the technology, but no one other than the service provider has the consistent regular contact with consumers over a prolonged period of time. Billing is at the heart of this contact. As operators look to profit from existing relationships, they need to have the infrastructure in place that allows them to offer a meaningful customer experience based on real-time actionable intelligence. Without this, declining revenue growth will quickly turn into declining revenues.
Bob Lento is president of information management, Convergys.
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