The rate at which the Unified Communications and Collaboration as a Service or UCaaS market is growing is incredible. Reports suggest it will become a $96 billion market by 2023! UCaaS providers offer a diverse set of communication services along with a multitude of value-added services and over the top applications. All customers have to do is pick-and-choose the services as per their communications needs. However, considering the number of services available, each with its own billing cycle, billing method, taxation policy, jurisdiction, and more, creating innovative service bundles based on the past buying patterns or on the local market demand is not easy. UCaaS providers are always on the hunt for solutions that could help overcome the many challenges, streamline the billing process, and deliver out-of-the-box customer experiences.
Billing challenges UCaaS Providers Face
Today, almost every service offered under the UCaaS umbrella could be personalized or customized in various ways – the number of users/extensions allowed, services allowed for each user, DID, and toll-free numbers with or without included minutes etc. Considering the magnitude and complexity of each service offered, here are some billing challenges UCaaS providers face:
- Customer Management:
- Given the number of customers that UCaaS providers have to deal with, keeping track of each customer with respect to sign-up, service activation, trials, upgrades, downgrades etc. is a challenge.
- Customers with recurring billing requirements need to receive recurring payments that have to be reconciled and managed in different ways. They seek flexibility in different prices for different terms and also look to make payments on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis.
- Enabling multi-currency and multi-language support, although imperative for global customers, is also a big challenge.
- Flexible Billing Management:
- Tracking the flavor of the service subscribed and/or used by a given customer requires the creation of exhaustive product catalogs and resulting subscription data for each customer.
- For accurate billing, understanding subscription and usage data is the most crucial element. However, most subscription billing systems only support a simple per user or per month billing model with no means to capture and record changes for usage-driven or consumption-based billing.
- Pricing Plans Management:
- Managing the different prices for different plans is another major roadblock. Although different plans make the business affordable to a wider range of customers with diverse business needs, it also increases the complexity with respect to planning multiple tiers of pricing.
- Such actions result in several changes to the subscription and usage data for every customer; depending on the billing model opted, the need to maintain granular data for each of these activities varies.
- If you are offering different levels of service to different customers, or if you have customers signing up for services at different periods, invoicing hundreds of customers is a complicated undertaking.
- Since customers have the control to begin or end a given service as per their need, the likelihood of services being added, removed or temporarily suspended many times in a given billing cycle is high. For example, DIDs can be added or removed, E911 can be enabled or disabled and new devices can be registered or unregistered – keeping track of which becomes impossible.
- Then there is the need to present charges in simple, easy-to-understand format on the invoices; add to it the need to capture and present additional information on the invoice such as locations, numbers subscribed, details of usage, network and other identifiers.
For service providers who do not have access to the right billing platform, billing is hence a hard task. In addition, there are several other aspects that complicate the billing process:
- Service delivery involves multiple systems and entities. E.g. communications carriers, soft-switch, and IP-PBX solution providers, device providers, internal IT systems; therefore, billing could require collecting/consolidating data from one or more of these systems.
- Offering discounts and other add-ons are essential to get new customers or have existing customers upgrade subscriptions. However, creating, managing and tracking these add-ons for each and every customer adds to the overall complexity.
- Circumventing complex taxation rules is never easy, especially while dealing with and setting up taxation rules and policies tax for different communication services, different states, as well as different exemptions and inclusions.
- Recognizing and effectively managing failed transactions is another impediment for UCaaS providers. Manually going through every failed transaction is a time and cost-intensive process.
How a subscription billing platform can help?
Having to manage multiple customers with multiple billing models, preferences, cycles, and currencies make billing an excruciatingly complex process for UCaaS providers. A cloud-based subscription billing platform is a great way to overcome all the challenges of billing – in one go. Not only does it enable more control over the billing cycle, but it also ensures on-time billing through precise billing methods. Here’s what a billing platform can help you achieve:
- Select the billing frequency you need and bill customers when you want, how you want – either on service initiation date, a specific pre-determined date or any date your customer chooses.
- Offer customers an extensive choice of billing methods that are carefully curated to meet their needs – standard, flexible, recurring, order-based, limit, suppression, or on-demand billing.
- Personalize billing, include add-ons such as discounts and taxation, and boost customer satisfaction across all phases of the billing cycle; an all-in-one system can help efficient tracking of discounts redeemed – helping you track performance and make sense of the numbers.
- Combine product offerings from various vendors into a single bundle and generate one combined invoice for customers and drive better efficiency.
- Leverage the built-in custom and real-time tax calculation feature to simplify the taxation process and eliminate stress for the customer.
- Automatically manage failed transactions and provide real-time notifications for quick identification and tracking of invalid payments.
- Make use of customized workflows to remind customers about overdue payments and take necessary actions to restrict revenue leakage.
Dynamic billing for a competitive edge
For any UCaaS provider, accurate and timely billing is critical for a steady flow of recurring revenue. However, considering the gamut of challenges that UCaaS providers have to face with respect to the billing process, managing, communicating and accepting payments from customers in the most efficient way comes at a price. A subscription billing solution allows you to take complete control over the billing cycle and offer flexible and innovative billing options. Not only can you choose when customers are billed, but you can also define custom bill cycles, billing modes, and taxation policies to streamline the billing process. Make the billing process more dynamic for your customers, limit delays and get the competitive edge you’ve always been aspiring for.