Why Simplified Converged Billing Matters (And Where it Starts)

In the constant pursuit of growth and innovation, CSPs are realizing an obvious but complicated challenge—how to effectively bill for an increasingly diverse range of products and services without overwhelming internal systems and people, and without placing an undue burden on customers.


The idea of converged billing is not new. In fact, many CSPs are claiming to have already built the systems to offer converged billing solutions. But to date, these are largely Frankensteined approaches that are still working from disparate data sources and disconnected formulas.


To create true converged billing we need modern systems. And to do that, we must first understand the nature of the challenge, and why it’s so important for future growth and better customer experiences.


Understanding the festering issues of siloed systems and data sources

A couple of decades ago when systems were built from the ground up, billing was a straightforward affair. A mobile service provider provided a single service with a singular method for billing—a few cents per minute of call time, for example. But as telecoms grew—largely through mergers and acquisitions (which added multiple networks under a single brand) and by adding new products and services—the billing structures naturally became splintered and more complicated.


Fast forward to smartphones, streaming services, smart homes, VOIP… and it became a spider web of systems all using different formulas and data sources to arrive at their own cost structures. But the writing was on the wall for CSPs. All of these products, services and networks are complementary to each other and a very attractive target for CSP consolidation. And that’s exactly what happened—telecoms expanded their reach with customized offers to meet a rising demand. The underlying billing systems, however, were not positioned to facilitate this transition.


Fractured internal departments, complicated accounting and frustrating customer experiences

The resulting patchwork of interrelated yet independent products and services has quickly led to something of a nightmare for billing departments.


Each service has its own data (and source of data), and its own formula to use that data to create a unique billing solution. Furthermore, each service provider harbors its own knowledge base that doesn’t necessarily transfer to other products and services. For instance, a mobile billing department knows little about billing for OTT services. When it comes time for converged services, the data, formulas and people are not equipped to “talk” to each other. What results are mass inefficiencies and bloated support systems and processes to create something as fundamental and consequential as a billing structure.


The customer experience suffers as well. While the products and services continue to work toward seamless interoperability, the billing experience is worse than ever. Business customers dealing with new challenges like hybrid work conditions, remote work and sporadic travel experience fluctuating needs and inconsistent usage and, therefore, unpredictable and cumbersome billing. Consumers and home subscribers are enjoying unprecedented choice and customization but, again, the billing experience has suffered greatly. It’s not unusual for any given home to have a dozen or more separate bills, with separate due dates and payment systems for what is essentially the same core service—connectivity.


Hovering above all of this is the dark cloud of inflated fees—creating widespread discontent with both business and home customers alike, and drawing the scrutiny of the government. There is no doubt that some of those fees are tied directly to the challenges of creating an efficient system of converged billing.


Simplified converged billing starts with subscriber management

Solving converged billing means building a consolidated foundation of data, formulas and personnel. This can be done at the point where the most critical changes affecting a cost structure and, ultimately billing, are taking place—where the products and services are being defined for every customer.


Consider a few of the variables that might be contained in a streamlined subscriber management tool:

  • Product catalog
  • Product subscriptions
  • Service upgrades and downgrades
  • Pre- and post-paid plans
  • Billing cycles
  • Parent/child subscriber relationships
  • One-time, recurring and usage-based billing
  • Invoicing, payments and taxes
  • Payment methods


If we build a modern system of subscriber management, we have all of the information we need in one place to create one billing system of record.What’s more, if a subscriber management tool is simplified to the point where any customer service representative can understand how the bill is constructed—agnostic of specialized product or service knowledge—they can drastically improve the customer experience. This creates one place to service a customer, improves first-touch response, and lower average handle time per support ticket.

A modern subscriber management tool that can pull data from multiple sources and learn to create a common “language” for that data is the key to realizing simplified, converged billing. And for CSPs looking for growth, whether regional players or multinational corporations, converged billing gives the ability to trim a notorious cost center; lay the foundation for seamless inclusion of future products and services; and create a simplified, even pleasant customer experience, giving CSPs a unique competitive advantage in an environment of rapidly escalating competition.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.