In this article, we will look at how the implementation of an automated billing system can facilitate the financial activities of the utility companies and minimize the possibility of errors.
To be a successful utility supplier, it is crucial to have a reliable billing system. Many companies all over the world face the problem that due to weaknesses in their billing systems, customers have lost trust in them. Many customers do not receive the correct invoices, which has a negative impact on supplier’s reputation, thus it is important that the consumer will receive his invoice in a format that clearly describes for which service what amount exactly he is paying. This is essential for both suppliers and customers. The implementation of key components for the customer in the invoice implies price transparency of the delivered services, increases the trust in the supplier and improves his engagement with the end-user. Design and visualization are especially important – the information should be presented comprehensive and the customer should clearly see how the final price has been calculated.
The key to the customer’s credibility is the billing systems to support live billing – when the customer submits a meter reading (through a self-service portal or mobile application) the current consumption amount to be calculated automatically and at the same time to be uploaded in the portal.
The automated billing system helps suppliers to effectively manage all cash flow processes: mass generation and cancellation of a large number of invoices, automatically issuing of debit and credit notes, automatically calculating VAT, configuring and managing financial periods. It also provides the necessary information for planning the company’s cash-flows, as well as the planned revenues at the level of customer or segment, which can be used for analysis of the subsequent new products’ implementation. A flexible billing system allows the modern supplier to analyze and in time to create any additional products and services in order to meet the needs of certain target groups, as well as to find the optimal product for each customer in the increasingly competitive utility market.
A proper and modern billing system also needs to include at least an automation process with Business Process Manager, a service-oriented architecture, as well as optimal micro-services for the different steps. With the rollout of smart meters which constantly send meter readings, the modern provider must be prepared for a huge amount of data to be processed properly in the shortest possible time.