Rapid Offer Design – Faster, better stronger proposals!
Modern customers want solutions and offers suited to their specific needs. In the communications sector, customers pick and choose products and services from across a provider’s portfolio to come up with tailored solutions. A provider needs a system to quickly design product and services bundles, and integrate them with the invoicing and revenue management system. The existing catalogue can be used as a base to generate different combinations and bundles, price promotions, trial offers and discounts.
The system should also handle rule-based offers. A cloud-based system allows the flexibility to create dynamic offers and promotions based on customer attributes, like geography (from customer address), past purchase history, credit scores, or loyalty points. While some of this data might be intrinsic to the system-such as geography and purchase history, some like credit scores will need to be acquired and entered into the system. A cloud based revenue management system will be able to collect and compute diverse data from a variety of sources to design focused offers and promotions for customers.
“A truly dynamic system will also allow providers to create shareable offer promotions, track customer’s social media promotions and incentivize the customer using loyalty points based on their promotions of the product / service.”
Price – As you Like It
Price is probably the most important factor in a sales negotiation. There are different pricing models, discounts, offers, trial periods, and managing this process smoothly, without wasting time is a key requirement of the UCaaS and cloud economy.
Providers need a system that is flexible, easy to configure and launch quickly. It should also be able to handle different pricing models, and able to seamlessly manage these key features:
- Flexible pricing – The on-demand world works on flexibility and pricing is the best example of this. UCaaS providers need a system that can quickly and accurately come up with flexible pricing modelled based on dynamic customer attributes
- Price Override – While every business works with a price catalogue, sales people often decide to offer a one-time discount, or trial period or a special offer to close the deal. Customers are given special prices that are different from the list price and providers need a system that can handle this sort of override for practically every sale that takes place.
- Trial offers – Modern customers in the cloud era, expect flexible term based pricing and trial offers. Terms and conditions and pricing varies from 1 term contract to 2 year contracts and may have variations within a specific term, for example: Price A valid for the first 3 months as a special offer with Price B being applicable from the 4th month. A modern cloud based revenue management system has to be able to manage this flexibility of choice easily.
- Subscription elasticity – Cloud technology has created an on-demand world, and its impact is evident on subscription pricing strategies as well. Businesses increasingly want to toggle pricing depending on seasonal demands, for example an ecommerce company will likely need more infrastructure power and services during the holiday season and will be willing to pay for more, while in the off seasons they might want to cut back on the services and the costs. The revenue management system used by UCaaS providers should be able to automatically handle such toggled pricing strategies.
B2B sales are rife with multiple discussions, price negotiations and alterations to terms and conditions. UCaaS providers need to invest in a solution that can handle this process automatically. The system should be able to integrate with the price list and create quotes based on the catalogue. In the UCaaS space, where many products and services are offered based on location, the system should be intelligent enough to create custom quotes based on the customer’s address. Additionally, it should be able to seamlessly manage the approval process – from sending the quote to signing off on it, to generating the contract and starting the provisioning workflow. It should be able to do all of this quickly and accurately so that there is no delay between contract signoff and availability of services to the customer. It should of course, be able to integrate with a client’s existing systems and platforms like CRM and ERP.
Online Quote Approvals – What You See Is What You Pay [WYSIWYP]
This small but extremely critical step precedes the PO process. The system must be able to come up with quotes, process the approval and the PO, and start the provisioning workflow. It should be able to create meticulous documentation that can sent to the prospect. This should include standard information about products and services, specific prices, frequency of the charge (one-time, recurring or usage), terms and conditions, and taxation information. Taxation in the UCaaS space are especially complex with many components, service / product level classification and their impact on tax rate in different countries. The system has to be particularly efficient in integrating taxes into the quotes, so that the final invoice that is sent to customer exactly matches the approved quote.
Contract Management – When a Prospect becomes a Customer
Contracts are the beginning of a customer’s relationship as a subscriber and their journey until termination. From keeping an eye on terms and conditions to term management and contract lifecycle management, this one feature of a revenue management system is critical for managing subscriptions as well. At the very least, this system should alert owners before the end of their contract term, and initiate renewal process. But a really advanced system can analyze the terms of the contract to implement auto renewals including those for varying subscriptions within a single contract; for example, UCaaS providers often bundle multiple services like infrastructure support, communication serve services, software services based on customer requirement. Each service sub agreement within the larger contract has its own lifecycle with different terms and conditions, pricing and taxation. A state of the art system should be able to handle each component of a larger contract independently, and generate renewals, mark ups, and more as stipulated. It should be capable of automatically handling trial periods and offers and subscriptions. It should be intelligent enough to handle contingencies such as cancellation of a sub agreement or subscription within a larger contract. It should be able to assess its impact on the larger agreement and carry out the complex calculations required to adjust invoicing accordingly. A system like this can make contract management a breeze for UCaaS providers.
Operation Management from Order to Activation
Order Orchestration is closely linked with the CPQ capabilities. The system should be able process the approval and the PO and begin the provisioning workflow. An order may have multiple services and each service needs specific provisioning and fulfillment. For example, in the unified communications space, the service provider may need to obtain a DID from the VOIP carrier, after which he might need to work with a different vendor to manage a hosted PBX and have to assign the DID to that vendor. At the same time, he could be ordering SIP phones from a device distributor. Added to this mix, is the possibility of installation services to be done by technicians at the client site. All of these have to be coordinated, lined up or sequenced and managed before service can be fulfilled and activated. An UCaaS provider should invest in a system that can decompose the various service elements in an order and orchestrate various services and activities across different parties for seamless provisioning. It should also be able to capture service attributes in the right order, for example to provision a communications bundle, the device has to be procured, cabling done and then the software installed and activated, in a business rule sequence. The system has to manage this and multiple services and vendors, capture service attributes and integrate tightly with a workflow management system to address failures or delays for provisioning and attribution.
Service Provisioning and Activation – Getting Started
“A modern billing system should be able to handle provisioning and activation activities ranging from basic to advanced, that can connect to various services and protocols and redefine integration.”
Customers in the cloud era, expect services to start the moment the contract is signed; but providers need a system in place to start off the services in sequential order. For example, to start a conference bridge, a provider has to define how many people will get on the bridge at what time, make sure the bridge is geared to handle x many number of callers and activate the bridge at the right time. At the same time, they need to keep track of customer behavior, particularly in the case of subscriptions. The system should be able to detect customers with failed payments and be able to cancel the service, or integrate any changes to the subscription in form of upgrades or downgrades or changes in plans and invoice accordingly. There are a number of systems that address only operations or only billing and in this age of on demand service, they are likely to prove woefully inadequate. In order to monetize cloud offerings, billing systems have to integrate the two functions and be equipped to handle the entire system seamlessly.
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