The very first step in solving or correcting any problem is first to realize there is a problem. Automating telecom inventory and credit recovery is the 24th reason to go beyond Telecom Expense management.
If you’ve worked in the voice or data communications industry over the last few decades, you might have seen, heard and experienced just about every type of crazy telecom billing issue there is.
Some billing issues are easy to identify, catch and correct. But what about the ones that aren’t so obvious? Some invoices look right, but once you dig into them you find out there are some errors that slipped through the cracks.
Here are some quick tips to help you know if you may have any problems:
1) Monthly Recurring Charges: If you don’t have it already, get an up-to-date telecom inventory with the monthly recurring charge (MRC) details.
- Your service provider should be able to provide you a detailed listing of all the services on each account you have and the monthly charges associated to them.
- A bonus to having a detailed telecom inventory is that it will help you identify what services are in which location and also show any feature charges on those services.
- Don’t depend on the invoice to show you the full picture of your inventory on that account. Many invoices may bundle monthly services together and just show one MRC charge.
2) Contracts: Now that you have an up-to-date inventory of all your accounts from all your service providers, the next step is to get a copy of all your service provider contracts.
- First, make sure your contract is current (check the term dates).
- Your contract should have pricing by services you have.
- Add a couple columns to the inventory file you have created. This will allow you to enter invoice pricing to contract pricing to make sure it matches.
3) Match-it up: So now you have your inventory, invoice pricing and contract pricing all on the same spreadsheet. This will help you identify any items that don’t match up.
- Contact your service provider and let them know you have spotted some errors and need them corrected (we recommend emails for tracking purposes). Remember, when it comes to refunds and credits, it can be a long process. A little side note here: you have to be professional, patient, and persistent.
- Keep in mind these steps will help you spot any erroneous MRC charges but not necessarily other charges that can creep in on an invoice. Charges that may look legitimate but are in fact not. Getting the monthly MRC accurate is a big first step!
A common statement is:
“I know we have billing errors but we just don’t have the time and resources to weed through the details of getting them corrected”.
All the steps above, but automated
Of course the steps above are a great starting solution point. But what if you could avoid doing it by automating it? That is when a good TEM solution comes into play.
With a TEM solution, your telecom inventory updates will be generated automatically as you will order through the platform and the inventory will adjust itself accordingly. Not only that, but you will be able to manage your inventory MACD requests (move, add, change, disconnect), and you’ll be able to keep up with the numerous changes.
Comparing your inventory to the services you pay for will never have been so easy. A TEM solution not only generates automatic inventory reports, but analyzes contracts. This analysis takes into account every aspect needed to find errors or discrepancies. By comparing the inventory – active and inactive services – and the contracts together, anything that seems out of place can be identified easily. The best part? A good TEM solution will often have a report just for billing errors and billing discrepancies! That way, you can access all the issues concerning your billing in one centralized repository.
The next step is to flag these billing inconsistencies. Of course, now that they are all combined in a single place, it is much easier to track the disputes to resolution. Going one by one, you can dispute all the billing issues you found, and manage those disputes with the different providers right in the platform. You can send emails, keep track of what is being said and done, and you can even add notes for your own tracking. Your credit will also be managed directly into the platform, so you have no extra documents to deal with and lose track of things. Once the dispute is resolved, you can complete it and regenerate the report and the billing error won’t appear anymore. Isn’t that wonderful?
And remember that when it comes to refunds and credits, the better prepared you are in giving your provider the information needed, the higher success rate you will have getting them. So don’t hesitate to send every document you can to prove you deserve a credit.
With the ever-growing number of technologies and services we are all using, along with it comes complicated and different types of bills. Trying to keep up with the different ways these services are billed is a huge challenge in itself. But once an automated process is in place, it becomes much easier and leaves time for the tasks that really matter, like developing your IT environment or integrating new types of assets to it.
If you need help with any of those steps, give us a call and we will get you where you need to be!