Taking control of your billing operations

Taking control of your billing operations In the latest of our product blogs, Leonardo Hodgson explains how Cerillion Skyline gives you the tools you need to keep control of your all-important billing process.

Billing is one of the most critical and difficult tasks for service providers, especially when customer bills have a variable usage element, as often used by energy companies and communications providers, for example. According to recent reports from Citizens Advice and Ombudsman Services, it is also the biggest source of complaints amongst energy and communications provider customers in the UK.

Billing is the culmination of a process where all the accumulated fees, usage charges, itemised elements, adjustments and credits are grouped, calculated and put on a nicely designed invoice to then be sent out to customers either electronically or in print.

This should be a straightforward process – computers are generally pretty good at adding things up! Nevertheless, there are countless examples in the press about ‘billing’ going terribly wrong, with customers usually being charged for things that they haven’t purchased or consumed. (There are probably just as many issues when customers are undercharged, however these stories are much less likely to hit the news!)

Billing tends to top the list of customer complaints as this is the place where problems often materialise, but it is rarely the root cause. For example, a charge for something that wasn’t purchased appears on a bill, but is most likely to originate with an incorrect order being created in the first place.

However, mistakes like this can be picked up before bills are issued, and not checking bills is surely one of the most unforgivable errors any service provider can ever commit, infuriating customers and often leading to negative publicity spreading quickly via social media.

How can Cerillion Skyline help?

To help companies ensure the best quality for their billing process, Skyline offers two different modes of operation:
  • • Manual billing: Requires manual approval from an administrator before the bill run is completed
  • • Automatic billing: Where the billing process happens automatically for each billing cycle 

The manual approval process (Billing QA feature) provides the means for companies to manually review and approve the bill run process to ensure the highest quality assurance before issuing invoices and collecting money from customers.

Users can request and view a detailed pre-billing report of transactions / invoice amounts for all accounts on a bill cycle in order to validate and approve the bill run. The report is generated automatically two days prior to the scheduled bill date, but it can be requested and re-generated at any time. Once produced, the report is delivered by email to the system administrator and can be viewed on the billing dashboard. Email notifications can also be configured to inform administrators about bill cycles pending approval, avoiding delays in the processing of any billing cycle.
 
Sample pre-billing report

Skyline’s billing dashboard provides a summary of each upcoming cycle displaying the bill day, currency, number of accounts to be billed and forecast revenue, as well as providing access to the latest pre-billing reports and offering report generation on demand. When you are ready to approve a bill cycle, it is just a simple action to mark the cycle as approved and then billing will proceed.
 
Skyline Billing Dashboard (unbilled view)

Note that pre-billing reports are also generated for automatic bill cycles, providing the option to override and stop an automatic bill cycle should a problem be identified before billing has run. It is also possible to toggle the billing mode between automatic and manual settings at any time, offering further flexibility in billing operations.

Furthermore, the billing dashboard also provides an overview of all completed bill cycles, including the number of invoices generated and total amount billed, with drill down access to the details and status of each invoice, as well as access to the approval history for each bill cycle. So you can always be in complete control of your billing operations.

Some companies with straightforward business models and flat account structures might be happy to see their billing run automatically, without any further intervention or approval necessary. However, others will prefer to be on the safe side and spend time checking and validating their charges and invoice amounts before issuing invoices to their clients. After all, the core of their revenue is dependent on this critical process and any incorrect orders or invalid settings can have a severe impact not only their income but also on customer satisfaction.

Sign-up now for a free trial and see how Cerillion Skyline can help you take control of your billing process.