Some of the team recently attened the Billing People Roadshow held by Union Street at the Everyman Cinema in Manchester. The day was filled with insighful talks and networking with fantastic presentations from Union Street's Sales Director, Gary May and Head of Product, Chris Aylott, as well as our very own James Drake taking to the stage with Partner Team Manager, Lauren Knight, taking part in a Q&A session to discuss our partnership and the real importance and misconseptions of billing! 
 
Take a look below to read the full Q&A: 
Why is billing so important to your business? 
 
Billing is usually the end of the sales journey and the beginning of the working relationship for most customers, without billing we don’t get paid, as simple as that. This period is also extremely sensitive as customers will be analysing their first invoice and comparing the costs against those proposed, should billing be incorrect at the start of a relationship it sets a negative tone that can continue throughout the life cycle of the customer. 
 
What’s the biggest misconception within your company around billing and it complexities ? 
 
The biggest misconception by far is that “telecoms billing” is easy and that having a billing platform is not always necessary. Eclipse Wholesale as a Channel First telecoms distributor adds roughly between 2-3 new Partners a month and a large number of these new Partners are fresh to the telecoms market and therefore have never required a billing platform. We find Partners using Accountancy Software, IT Software, Excel Spreadsheet to deliver billing, which may be were someone starts when they want to bill one fixed monthly service but we think about how a telecom base can develop and the need for calls, bundles, part billing, dynamic charges, proforma invoices, web clients, the list goes on. 
 
What are the biggest challenges in billing? 
 
The biggest challenge is customers wishing to manipulate data to present services on customers invoices in a certain way, they tell customers how the data will be presented without checking the suppliers CDR’s and the service charge descriptions, values or quantity. 
How has aBILLity helped overcome these? 
When we have an opportunity to assist with issues as highlighted, we ask that a loader is created for every carrier and make sure the customer sees the data and how it appears on the invoice before adopting a more consistent approach. 
 
How important is automation within billing, Sales, CRM, provisioning, accounting and DDs ? 
 
I think automation is important, as they “time is money” and as business owners we all need to avoid duplicity to reduce overheads and just as importantly reduce errors. It is important to choose the automation that provides the biggest benefit to your own organisation and processes it adopts, we (Eclipse) only integrate into our accountancy software as this provides the biggest gain for us personally and reduces errors. 
 
What is the biggest demand from your end customers in terms of billing ? 
 
With regards to the Channel, the biggest demand is the same for every partner new and old, it is simply the speed with which we can deliver their billing data for our Reseller channel and for those Partners who take our Bureau billing service, it is how quick we can get the bills to the end users and begin the process of cash collection before customers have to pay their suppliers, including Eclipse. 
We are also seeing the need to be able to bill Wholesale Mobile, this is the area we are seeing the most growth within Eclipse, mainly on SIM Only tariffs, as the products can be sold and invoiced incredibly quickly compared to some products within our product stack. 
 
Union Street have seen many of our partners on the acquisition path - how important is a smooth transition when migrating billing following acquisition? 
 
The telecommunications marketplace has seen huge consolation during the last few years on all fronts, when I think about anyone who has an M&A strategy and the advice I offer those who ask, is think about how easy it is to integrate your customers, processes, people, services, billing into another company. How easy will it be for an acquirer to merge your data if it is using a non-standard telecom billing solution. 
 
How important is your relationship to your business with your billing provider ? 
 
Our relationship with Union Street is paramount to our success, we have been a customer for around 20 years, which makes me feel both extremely old and very pleased we picked a billing provider many years ago which has proven to be so successful. I think it is important that we choose a provider that has its own Intellectual Property (IP) and doesn’t just rely upon 3rd party software to create a solution. 
 
 
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