Taking the long view of the U.S. Cellular billing system saga
It’s well past New Year’s Eve, but U.S. Cellular continues to feel the hangover of its billing system woes from 2013. A recent article on Fiercewireless.com notes that the company is making a $50M investment to reward loyal customers for their patience. While that’s a price tag that will most certainly eat into its profits, let’s keep in mind that U.S. Cellular has a bigger end game in mind. This billing project ultimately allows them to sell Apple products. Enough said.
Billing Isn’t a Static Technology
Of course any kind of large-scale problem that impacts customers is going to cause a rush-to-judgment criticism of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But for a technology business, views like that are simply short sighted.
Old technology has to be replaced. That’s a given. You can’t adapt an original Motorola brick phone to accept text messages. Similarly, you can’t run a 2014 communications business on old billing technology (we explain just a few reasons why in another blog post Healthy Billing, Healthy Business). Service providers have to look ahead and be ready to capitalize on whatever’s coming down the road – and the billing system plays a crucial role in making sure that can even happen.
Change as a Sign of Growth
I give credit to carriers who have the foresight to think ahead and make the decision to replace an outdated billing solution. They are focused on bringing the latest technologies and service offerings to both their customers and their business. A new billing solution that helps streamline operations, supports new products, and provides a better customer experience is an investment in a company’s long-term ability to grow.
Granted, it can wreak havoc on the entire business when things fall through the cracks in a billing system upgrade or conversion. But planned for properly and executed with precision by both billing partner and service provider, a billing system change is an instrumental part of a successful future in the communications business. And with the right partner, it may not even be as hard as you think.