Home Asia-Pacific III 2012 Do bill me, please!

Do bill me, please!

by david.nunes
Ernest L. Cu Issue: Asia-Pacific III 2012
Article no.: 1
Topic: Do bill me, please!
Author: Ernest L. Cu
Title: President and CEO
Organisation: Globe Telecom, Inc
PDF size: 262KB

About author

Ernest L. Cu is President and Chief Executive Officer of Globe Telecom, Inc.
Ernest Cu became the President and Chief Executive Officer of Globe Telecom on April 2, 2009. He joined Globe as Deputy CEO in October 2008, helping to strengthen project executions and day-to-day operations. Today, Globe is in the midst of a paradigm transformation from regular public utility to service-centric company, driven by Ernest’s primary advocacy of Customer-First. He tirelessly advocates this mindset across the organization to stimulate better financial and operating performance, and ultimately to deliver superior customer experience that differentiates Globe from the competition.

Ernest brings with him over two decades of general management and business development experience spanning multi-country operations, the most recent of which is his post as President and CEO of SPi Technologies. He has significant experience in the technological, marketing, and financial aspects of running businesses in the electronic publishing and database management industries. This year, Ernest earned international accolade as Best CEO of the Year by Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific. In 2010, he was adjudged best CEO by Finance Asia. He was moreover conferred the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) CEO EXCEL award for communication excellence in telecoms and IT. He was also voted as one of the Most Trusted Filipinos in a poll conducted by Readers Digest. In 2003, Ernest was awarded Ernst & Young ICT Entrepreneur of the Year.

Ernest has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management Engineering from De La Salle University in Manila, and an M.B.A. from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

Article abstract

No one likes to be billed. It is especially irritating when you get several bills from the same company. Worse still, you may get a shock when the spending far exceeds expectations. A real-time convergent billing system can not only combines all charged services in one bill, but also indicate spending against budgets or credit in a timely fashion. In fact, “real-timeliness of charging and billing is excellent credit control”. A single bill is easier with fewer transactions and greener with fewer printed bills. With many more real-time features, customers may actually like it!

Full Article

Generally people loathe getting their bills. In black and white, bills represent debt, and ultimately serve to pull hard-earned money from one’s pocket. As if to rub salt in a debtor’s wounds, it happens often enough that a bill shocks the senses out of its recipient, with figures unbelievably higher than expected, or charging comes late and confuses… ‘Did I really buy this?!’… For a customer maintaining more than one account with the same merchant, separate bills are sent with separate due dates calling for separate modes of payment. The way we charge and bill such customers can radically improve their overall experience.

These are common pain points in today’s billing environment – inaccuracy, tardiness, and separate billing with the same merchant. As real as purchase and payment are in the world of commerce, so is its billing component. The onus is on the collecting entity to evolve billing and charging systems to encourage, or at the very least, simplify payment.

Globe Telecom is an 84-year-old leading telecommunications company in the Philippines, serving consumers and businesses through a full communications suite of mobile, fixed, broadband, and data connection services. For the last three years, we have been driving a holistic transformation across the company, wrapped around customer centricity. As a matter-of-fact, the topic at hand – the evolution of charging and billing – is one that resonates with customers the most. In this article, we share a few salient points of our own company’s experience in the billing arena that can serve as reliable guide posts for any other firm’s intention to evolve the way they charge and bill. In mobile telephony, for example, especially for the post-paid segment, billing emerges as an area of opportunity.

Running in real-time

Our old post-paid billing system applies a post-process to assign rates and to charge customers accordingly for their calls, text messages, and data usage. Latency, inherent to this process, runs the risk of breached credit limits since our system will only recognize that a subscriber has already amassed call or text messaging charges beyond the assigned
credit limit, after the fact. This tends to result in what is notoriously known as “bill shock”, where a customer will assert that, had timely notice been served, consumption could have been correspondingly curbed. Instead, our customer faces a billed amount beyond credit limit, more than budgeted, above what he or she is willing to pay.

Now, the billing system we have designed and are currently implementing runs in real-time. This presents a huge difference. For our customers, it means no more “bill shock” because they will get alerts the moment they breach decided credit limits. Customers can also access their most up-to-date consumption data so they can plan future spend wisely. With such valuable current information, they can decide to personalize their post-paid plan to better suit actual usage. The timeliness, or shall we say, real-timeliness of charging and billing is excellent credit control for the buyer and for the seller. It brings accurate accounting and forecast for both parties, ushering in a new sense of ease and comfort, previously lacking in a post-process system.

Convergent and green

Customers can subscribe to multiple services offered by the same company with independent fees. Of course, there are charges for a mobile phone service as there would be for internet-at-home, for instance. In our current billing system, these services are billed separately. Unfortunately, it is cumbersome and not environmentally
friendly for our customers to make multiple transactions in order to settle these bills with us. Convergent billing is the capability to render a single bill for all services offered by a single service or product provider. Such practice gives customers the convenience of one-time settlement for several accounts, and sweeping budget control with the comprehensive view of multiple payments due to one entity.

We have been using separate billing systems for mobile and broadband customers, and convergent billing is a promising opportunity. Again, from the customer’s point-of-view, a single settlement spells utmost convenience and a holistic view of spend surfaces as an outstanding benefit. From our perspective, better collection and cash flow can be expected. There is also tremendous opportunity to improve cost management owing to the production and delivery of one bill instead of two. Plus, consuming less paper is obviously eco-friendly. We strongly believe that the impact of convergent billing will be highly positive, one that can dramatically improve and differentiate customer experience.

Real-time convergent billing is undoubtedly a strategically-sound route to take, especially for telecommunication companies that are focused on customers and are determined to win the game. Billing and charging systems of old only exacerbate the all too commonly unpopular grudge against receiving bills. However, many value-add features for real-time convergent billing can somehow offer soothing comfort. Soon enough perhaps, as billing and charging systems evolve, consumers’ clamour will change from – ‘Blast this bill!’ to – ‘Do bill me, please!’ … Well, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture.

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