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Note 80: Using Billing Notes and the Contact History

Billing applications make ‘contact’ with the biller’s customers each time a bill or reminder notice is sent, and whenever customers ring or email the biller’s staff with billing-related inquiries and requests. A billing note is one mechanism for capturing the key details of these customer / biller interactions. When a customer contacts the biller subsequently, the biller’s staff can review the customer’s prior contacts by looking at the notes that were recorded.

With billing notes available, a customer contacting their biller does not have to replay their entire story to whichever (new) staff member / call centre agent answers the call, but instead can just ask their new questions. Of course this requires the biller's staff actually do capture details of each call and contact, or at least all important interactions, so that these details are available 'next time' the customer calls in.

 

 

Brief billing notes can be generated automatically as part of the regular billing process. For example, during bill production, or when non-bill documents such as reminder notices are sent, a billing note can be recorded against the customer's billing account. These notes can have a regular structure that captures each context's essential details: for a bill, the notes could include details of the billing date, amount, any prior amount outstanding, and the current due date; for a reminder notice, details of the notice's severity, new (amended) due date and credit management status (e.g. high risk, new customer) could be included.

The most specific and generally longer billing notes will be those produced at a much lower volume by the biller's staff as they interact with customers. These billing notes capture the details of the special circumstances that cause a customer to make contact with their biller, and will be most appreciated by the customer (and the answering staff) when the customer calls back.

By presenting billing notes, in reverse date order with the most recent, and hopefully most relevant, notes at the top of the biller's staff's screen, the biller’s staff will have less to pre-read before they can begin to answer the customer’s current inquiry.

A staff member / call centre agent, using the billing notes, can identify when repeated contacts are taking place with a customer, and by rereading details of prior conversations can quickly come up to speed regarding the customer's history. The billing note, being an internal data structure, can include details of investigative steps taken by the biller's staff after previous contacts, and what (if any) were the results of those steps. Capturing this additional information avoids the same diagnosis steps being retried, and the customer frustration this can create.

By classifying the automatically generated and manually entered billing notes, the different types of contacts can be analysed for patterns and trends that indicate problems (e.g. customers can’t understand their bill), and opportunities (e.g. proactively contact customers if they are unhappy and might change providers).

Additionally, where details of reminder notices' billing notes have high visibility, the customer can be prompted to pay any outstanding amounts whilst on the phone, or it may encourage a 'promise to pay' to be captured that can be tracked by the biller's credit management application.

Notes can also be entered manually at different levels in the billing hierarchy (e.g. customer, billing account) to record special circumstances that should be taken into consideration during future interactions. e.g. highlighting the biller’s CEO, domestic violence situations, customers in legal dispute with the biller

Originally posted by

- 23 March 2014

 

 

Links to other Notes

Previous: What are Bill Details and Disputes?

Next: Using Taxation Details Within Billing


 

Recent Posts on purebill.com

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» Business Practices Implemented Through Pricing - The price billers charge for their products can influence customer's consumption behaviour by increasing or decreasing their likelihood to purchase.

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» Billing Addresses - A billing application uses addresses in a wide variety of roles to describe the source locations of incoming transactions (from the network), details about the customers (and their representatives) who are billed, and the destinations to which the outputs from billing will be sent.

» Using Taxation Details Within Billing - Where governments tax the business domain being billed, the billing system will be a key calculation point since taxes are likely to be calculated on the finalised amounts after all rating / pricing has been performed, and after any discounts have been applied.

» Fraud Detection: Using Called Numbers To Find New Targets - Fraud occurs on phone networks, and when detected, it is closed down and stopped on the phone numbers on which it was detected. But how can the same bad actors / fraudsters be detected if they start up on new fraudulently obtained phone numbers, or have other existing phone numbers on the same network?

» Using Billing Notes and the Contact History - Billing applications make ‘contact’ with the biller’s customers each time a bill or reminder notice is sent, and whenever customers ring or email the biller’s staff with billing-related inquiries and requests. A billing note is one mechanism for capturing the key details of these customer / biller interactions. When a customer contacts the biller subsequently, the biller’s staff can review the customer’s prior contacts by looking at the notes that were recorded.

» How Does Payment Allocation Work? - Payment allocation is the association of credit amounts, such as new payments and adjustments, against a customer's outstanding debts (e.g. unpaid bills / invoices). There are different approaches for allocating credits against the customer's outstanding debt(s).

» What are Bill Details and Disputes? - The bill sent to the customer along with details of transactions performed by the customer, will have a summarised amount representing the bill’s new charges, aggregated from the bill’s individual charges. Post bill disputes capture those bill details challenged by customers.


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Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones is a consultant who has focused specifically on Billing and related processes for over twenty years. Recent work has included relating a major telco's billing with inbound call centre logs for Call Centre Analytics.

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Other Publications by Stephen

I contributed an essay on testing design assumptions in the O'Reilly book 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know. This book was written in an 'open source' style with more than four dozen authors. The original essays of the axioms / koans / advice can be viewed on the project's wiki.


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