Why Automated Billing is Essential for Expanding your Business

Kristen Fiddes

Kristen Fiddes

 | 14 September 2021

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It’s undeniable that cash flow is the backbone of any business, and that includes Internet Service Providers. Whether you are delivering service via fiber, satellite or, somewhere in between, every avenue of your business depends on managing timely and accurate billing. As an ISP, this goes beyond simply accepting payment for a customer’s service; this entails purchasing inventory, paying for licensing and processing payroll amongst other expenses. With this combination, it becomes challenging to support manually. The solution to this is automated billing. With Sonar’s flexible billing engine, you can easily eliminate hours of manual labor with features such as batch payments, auto invoicing and automatic account suspension/reactivation.

Aside from the time saved, utilizing billing automation will also improve the accuracy of transactions. Whether you are processing dozens, hundreds or even thousands of payments, the task becomes repetitive and the risk of mistakes heightens. While errors can be corrected, they may not always be found and this can lead to an expensive cost in both additional time taken and potential lost revenue. Revenue is not the only risk associated with mistakes though, as customer satisfaction can also be impacted which may result in further long-term costs.

As an Internet Service Provider, you likely service various types of customers such as residential and commercial accounts. With Sonar, you can configure custom billing instructions to be tied to a specific account type. This ability allows you to control how billing runs for different customer types. For example, perhaps with commercial customers you may be more lenient with delayed payments whereas a residential account may have a maximum of a week to pay before their service is suspended. This tool allows you to create custom, automated experiences for your customers.

While it would be preferable that customers take advantage of auto-pay options using their credit card or bank account, sometimes they may choose to pay via check, cash or wire transfer instead. In this event, you will need to manually enter and track these payments back to your bank account. Through the use of Sonar’s batch payment entry and deposit slip tools, this process becomes significantly easier to manage. These features allow you to enter each individual payment and seamlessly tie it to the applicable customer account, all while working from a singular window. Once the payments are entered and the batch is created, a deposit slip can be produced which can then be taken to the bank.

Batch Payment Entry

Unfortunately, delinquent payments are a reality of any recurring revenue business. With automatic account suspension, your billing team can spend less time chasing down payments as the suspended service incentivizes customers to pay. And paying a bill has never been easier than it is with the use of Sonar’s customer portal. The portal provides customers easy access to self-serve options such as adding a payment method and opening a ticket. With this accessibility, they can apply a payment to automatically post to their account. Depending on the configuration of their billing settings, this can provide customers the ability to move their account back into an active status without having to wait for office hours or communicate with a member of your team.  

Sonar Customer Portal

With billing automation, there may be a worry that by removing that human touch, the customer relationship could be tainted. We recognize how important it is that customers still feel that they’re able to get hands-on assistance, should they need it. With this in mind, we added in an option to specify which days of the week you allow accounts to transition to a delinquent status. If your billing team does not work on weekends, or they operate at a much lower capacity, you may wish to avoid delinquencies on Saturday and Sunday and instead push these through to Monday when you’re back to full staffing levels. Similar to this, you are able to add in delinquency exclusions, ensuring that customers do not move to a delinquent state on holidays, or any other days where you may not be operating with a full team.

An added layer of customization that Sonar offers is the ability to dictate what content is reflected on invoices, such as including a remittance slip or adding an invoice message to display information like holiday hours or advertising current promotions. The date of when invoices are issued uses the same custom billing rules that outline when an account is considered past due and when it would move into a delinquent state.

The method of delivering invoices to customers can be time consuming, and in the event that the process is disrupted by faulty equipment or even something as simple as low ink, the time and effort taken only increases. Sonar has delivered the ability to automate this process too by integrating print to mail for mailed invoices; not only does this save time but it can also save you money, and can be fully completed without even navigating out of your Sonar instance. By outsourcing the task of printing invoices, you can avoid costly printers and the inevitable repairs and replacements that follow. You no longer have to be mindful of whether there’s enough printer ink to last through invoicing, and your days of fighting the printer to relieve a paper jam can finally be behind you.

Watch this short demo and seeing how billing automation works in Sonar