An efficient billing solution is essential to the smooth operation of any business and SaaS platforms are no different. Over the past few years, finance has evolved considerably, particularly in the business space. Nowadays, there are several more components to keep track of. Without an up-to-date billing system, the entire process is set to be an overwhelming chore.
Companies typically choose a payment system based on what works best for their present business model. They consider the needs and wants of their client base. However, it’s important to be aware that as a business expands, a particular billing system may no longer work for them. If this happens, the business is bound to fall behind.
So, what do you need to look for? How can you tell when your business model is no longer the optimal choice for your platform?
Here are 9 signs you need an agile and automated convergent billing system
1. Customer complaints about the bill
Your billing process is a crucial point of contact between your business and your customers. Of course, you might offer excellent quality when it comes to the core of your services, but no one wants to leave a deal feeling overcharged. A complex or inaccurate invoice with the incorrect charges or taxes applied will go quite a way to foster those feelings. Ultimately, consistent complaints will lead to a loss of trust and customer defection in the long run.
Work towards adopting a billing system that promises accuracy, and clear, easy-to-read charges no matter how many items make it onto the invoice. The best way to achieve this is to ensure your billing solution has a fully integrated rating engine to guarantee the charges that accompany the use of any of your products or services are entirely accurate. Another key element is an integrated taxation engine that has the intelligence to automatically apply the correct taxes based on the customer’s location. Not only will this lessen the burden on your customer support department, but overall your clientele will be satisfied and more willing to stick around.
2. Record discrepancies and revenue leakage
Revenue leakage describes a loss of revenue for your company, it’s when you generate income but it doesn’t reflect in real life. It’s a pretty common occurrence that a business does well selling its products or services but not when it comes to collecting revenue. If you notice this in your business, it’s probably time for you to upgrade your billing process.
Several factors can contribute to revenue leakage, but most have ties to a company’s billing system. Manual invoice processes may cause inefficiencies and inaccurate calculations, spreadsheet omissions, under-billing, and others. These are errors that could cause a loss of revenue, all stemming from a poor billing system.
A healthy billing system supports automation, which is more efficient and reduces the risk of error. It also makes it easier to keep track of your billing data via intelligent reporting tools and review it from time to time. So even if you do experience leakage, it won’t be difficult to pinpoint the source.
3. Reliance on manual billing processes
Perhaps a manual data flow was easy to work with at the start of your business, however, it’s not a sustainable process. As you expand these can grow overwhelming and more prone to mistakes. A prime example is spreadsheets. As your business broadens its service offering and adds new pricing models, your billing department will be forced to create and maintain several spreadsheets to track payments, record your revenue, and other similar categories. These have to be entered manually, and if any categories intersect or events cross there’s guaranteed to be no small measure of confusion.
You also have to consider that a customer’s lifecycle with your business is dynamic. Periodically, they may want to add new products or services or even temporarily suspend them for a few months. Without having an automated billing process, you can be spending hours keeping on top of managing these movements.
An automated billing system can help you streamline the workflow and ensure there is order no matter how wide your payment network grows. You will also be empowered with the capability to set up workflows so that when a customer adds new products or changes their service in some way, the triggers are in place to quickly adapt how the customer is charged.
4. Utilize disparate systems to manage revenue
This carries over from the previous point. If your billing process spreads data across contrasting mediums, you likely have an obvious lack of organization. You will probably experience slow processing, inconsistencies, and possibly even missing information as a result of this.
It is not uncommon that companies are relying on up to five different systems to manage each part of the billing process from customer management, CPQ, order provisioning, billing, to payment recognition. This can be costly and if there is a lack of integration between the systems, it can lead to greater inefficiencies due to transferring data between platforms.
You could save a lot of time and expense by adopting a billing platform that is capable of fully managing the end-to-end billing process. Such a platform should be able to handle a series of tasks such as setting up products, managing contracts, fulfilling orders, rating usage, applying taxes, billing, and recognizing revenue. Your business should also benefit from its knowledge on the latest customer interactions, and the ability to resell through partners and pay them in real time, without human intervention.
5. Integrating new pricing models is challenging
If your billing system cannot adapt to new pricing models, it’s a surefire sign you need to move on. As the business and service economy continues to evolve, a universal approach to pricing is simply an obsolete concept. The question of a pricing model will arise as you expand to a new customer base or unveil new service rollouts and product releases. Will your billing system be able to work alongside your new offering? If the answer is no, then it’s holding you back. Try transitioning to a modern system that seamlessly integrates new pricing models and their varying demands.
Ultimately, your billing system should be able to accommodate any type of charge: one time, recurring, usage-based, rule-based, volume-based, overage-based and more. Moreover, it should be able to bundle and combine these charges seamlessly onto one invoice.
6. Unable to accurately track product usage
A healthy billing process should be able to stay on top of your data at all times. It should be flexible and able to work with a full product list, while giving you insight into the billing process and how well customers interact with it. Seeking out a billing system that includes a powerful rating engine can put you ten steps ahead. This is because the rating engine will be able to ingest a significant volume of product or service usage data and automatically assign the correct charges to a customer invoice.
If you’re having trouble generating reports, and adequate information about the billing process in general, that is a sign that you need an upgrade.
7. Limitations with market expansion
We’ve slightly touched this point a few times so far; your billing system should support your business’ growth. If you’re looking to venture into a new market, perhaps launch new products or simply scale your business, and your billing solution is in the way, well it’s time for a change.
Inflexibility, vulnerability, inadequate terminals, lagging, and general inefficiency, are all features you should be looking to send out the door. They will limit your potential as a business, however, improved payment systems mean quicker, easier processes which are a huge benefit to both you and your clients. A dynamic billing solution should let you change currencies or language, you may also be able to accept local payment methods, and apply the accurate tax codes based on their geographical region.
8. Contracts with complex terms are difficult to manage
Billing terms indicate when payments are due on a customer’s account, whether yearly, monthly, or weekly. They should be easy to understand and your system should be able to monitor them pretty easily. Ideally your billing platform should be able to configure unique invoice cycles for each customer. In addition, you should be able to easily set up a master contract with different line items that have unique billing terms. That way, you can consolidate contract management and thus avoid having to keep up with multiple separate sub-contracts with unique terms.
9. Incurring high platform maintenance costs and security issues
Running into security issues and the occasional breakdown? Your system is begging for an upgrade. Maintaining an outdated system or dealing with the aftermath of a data breach is going to cost you quite a lot. Switching to a modern solution gives you access to technological advancements that ensure your customers’ data stay secure. Also, you get to save funds and have smoother operations.
It’s time to upgrade
If you’ve encountered more than a few of these signs in your business, then it’s probably time to update your billing system. By incorporating services from a platform such as OneBill, you can seamlessly transition from a manual to automated billing process. OneBill’s features allow you to monitor your customers and their interactions with your business and employ a variety of billing models. Easily manage and update subscriptions, process payments and keep track of your earnings, all you have to do is opt for a system that caters to your needs.