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22 November, 2021

6 essential components of a resilient telecom collection management system

By: Omar Abdul-Hafiz

Vector image about collecting payments from customers
In the business world, there’s a general rule that must be obeyed for any company to survive and grow. It is quite simple. As a business, just as it is important for you to produce high-quality products and offer customers a great user experience and support, so should your customers pay their dues so you can continue to make them happy!

Failing to collect customers’ payments is what is generally known as bad debt.

Bad debt is a very major problem in business at large. According to Gartner’s finance research, the year 2020 witnessed a 26% increase in bad debt cases. This should give you an idea of how this is a very serious matter.

The telecom industry is no exception from this serious dilemma. And to overcome it, you should look for a powerful collections management system. Therefore, in this article, we will take a detailed look at the major components that you should look for in a resilient collections management system.

So, here we go!
 

Smart dunning procedures

As a customer’s payment approaches its due date, you may consider sending them an automated message to remind them of it. Until this point, everything seems normal. As the payment due date passes without a payment being made, however, this is when you tend to resort to dunning procedures.

There is a variety of dunning methods to choose from, including sending SMS or email reminders, service suspension, and even premise visits. But one important aspect about dunning you should consider is that it should be done in a smart and appropriate fashion.
 
Holidays
One essential feature in this regard is to avoid service suspension around holidays. After all, depriving a customer from communicating with their loved ones on Eid or Christmas Eve, is the opposite of retaining a healthy relationship with them, and therefore should not happen.
 
Time considerations
Another important feature is that your system should automatically avoid contacting a customer in the middle of the night. Instead, all communication should be timed at an appropriate part of the day to ensure the customer’s maximum possible comfort. This will also allow them to respond conveniently with the desired result, which is typically making a payment.
 
Multi-level hierarchy
Also, on a more technical level, your collection system should enable you to create multi-level hierarchy lists and workflows for managing various types of customers in the telecom industry. This is especially relevant when you examine your own business model. Whether your business follows a B2B, B2C, or M2M model, or some combination of these, your workflows should be consistent with the type(s) of customers that you are serving and their specific needs.

 

Personalized collection scenarios

If there’s one rule-of-thumb as far as dealing with your customers’ bills is concerned, it would be that no two cases of bad debt are the same. This is simply because customers, be human after all, come from various cultural and financial backgrounds. In other words, they all vary in terms of age groups, habits, and needs.

Keeping this fact in mind is essential for deciding upon the best, most effective way to tackle each case of bad debt that yields the best possible result. That is because based upon this, you will be more able to create fine-tune a specific lifecycle and collection scenario for each case.

For example, based on one customers’ information, you know that this person usually pays their bill as soon as you send him/her an SMS reminder. In that case, you’ll create a lifecycle to automatically send them an SMS two days after their bill has been issued every time.

On the other hand, another customer is a bit more difficult as it usually takes them an SMS and an IVR call to convince them to pay their dues. In this case, you should devise a scenario that handles them accordingly, and so on.
 
But how to make this possible?
Being aware of your customers’ detailed information thus entails that your system should have the ability to automatically survey your customers’ details. Such details may include their payment history, list of purchased services, usage habits, as well as previous and pending debts.

After that, the system is supposed to use this detailed information to help you create automated scenarios that fit each separate customer on his/her own.

 

Solid dispute management

In some unpleasant cases, your customer may refrain from paying his/her dues despite being notified about it multiple times. They often simply choose to ignore your messages and calls altogether. In such cases, the situation has already escalated into a dispute, and that’s when you may want to take things a step further. In other words, you will have to treat this as a bad debt case and take necessary actions to resolve it.

To be able to manage payment disputes better, your collections management system should have the ability to track your bad debt cases automatically. This is done by defining a certain sequence of steps tailored to each customer’s specific circumstances.

For instance, you may agree with a customer to pay in pre-defined installments. Or, you could as well set up a promise-to-pay agreement with a customer to pay you their dues on a certain date.

These features are quite essential in a reliable and comprehensive collection management system.
 
External DCA’s
Perhaps you have chosen to outsource your debt collection tasks to an external specialized agency. In this case, your collections management should also be agile enough to help you manage your collaboration with that agency effectively and systematically.

For instance, it should enable you to track that agency’s performance, open and closed cases, and other information in full detail.

 

Comprehensive legal case management

In extreme cases, even your best tactics for managing a certain dispute simply fall apart. The customer, in these situations, is very obstinate about not paying what they owe you despite all your efforts to peacefully convince them to do so. At this point, you are left with no choice but to resort to legal action.

Therefore, your system should provide you with solid legal case management features. In other words, it must include a reliable tool for managing your collaboration with your legal team or your external legal agency. In other words, through this powerful system, you should be able to automatically collect all the necessary documents about your client and send them to your legal department for their perusal.

The way this could be possible is if your system allows you to conveniently create customer profiles containing all the necessary information. Furthermore, you should also be able to easily assign cases to your lawyers, monitor their performance, and take further decisions accordingly.


Hassle-free 3rd party integration

Finally, you cannot stress enough how important it is for any system to be able to integrate easily with other, 3rd party tools systems. After all, a system that can depend solely on its built-in features is quite limited and thus unreliable.

For example, your system should integrate flexibly with other systems such as 3rd party CRMs, notifications tools. Even more importantly, the system needs to work well with 3rd party payment service providers as it is a critical part of making it easier for your customers to pay you through their preferred channels and applications.

 

Payment-based reverse action

This is a very important feature in a cutting-edge collection management system. The idea is that as soon as your customer pays their dues, your system should enable you to instantly resume their suspended services. It is highly detrimental to your CRM efforts to keep your customer waiting for their services to start again for a long time after they have made the payment.

Furthermore, a smart and flexible collection management system makes it possible to return services gradually as the customer pays part of their dues. For example, a customer has a total of $1000 in due bills. They may not have to pay the whole amount for all their services to resume at once. Instead, you may choose to make it possible for them to pay parts of their due bills and retrieve some of the services in return. The deployed collection system should be able to accommodate these scenarios as needed.

 

Conclusion

This was, in some detail, a comprehensive description of what a state-of-the-art collections management suite has to offer to help you improve your bad debt collection efforts. With these components in place and working in harmony, chances are you will be more capable of reducing your bad debts and write-offs to a minimum. However, one more important thing that should be mentioned here is the significant role of a powerful Customer Relationship Management system in ameliorating the hassles of bad debt.


For more information, please take a look at ESKADENIA’s power collections management suite, ESKA® Collections.

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About ESKADENIA Software

ESKADENIA® Software is a three-time MENA Award Winner & CMMI® level 3 certified company that is active in the design, development and deployment of a range of software products in the Telecom, Insurance, Enterprise, Education, Healthcare, and Internet application areas. The company is based in Jordan and has sales activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; more than 85% of its sales are exported to the global market. For more information, visit www.eskadenia.com, or contact us at pr@eskadenia.com.