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 Post subject: Invoices
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 62
There is a thread "Is a2billing really a full featured telecom application?"
great comments... I hope the following will also help make A2B "THE" telecom app for asterisk.

My basis are simple: A good product or service, clear communication with the customer, good customer service, and reasonable prices will keep your customer, Every time I send an invoice to a customer I want it to have all the information he needs to pay the bill with no question asked. If he needs to call me to ask a question not only I did not do a good job, I am wasting my time and the customers time and most important delaying a payment.

The A2B invoicing in my opinion is so far from ideal, actually it is unusable as is. (At least in my business) but I don't see it to be too much different for anyone else.

A2B Invoice/Receipt got me a call from a great customer with the following questions: (actual questions) I have changed some of the actual numbers to make my point clear.
A couple relevant comments to keep in mind while you read this:
1- The only difference in a pre-paid and post-paid customer is that one has credit the other does not. the billing process should be the same.
Either way, every customer counts, and more yet if 1 accounts for 50% of your revenue. :)

2- An invoice or receipt MUST contain a clear description of all charges and every possible piece of information a customer may need to pay it on the spot or to buy it.

3- The data on invoice should be such and as simple to understand and as to never cast any doubt in the customer's mind he is paying for a worthwhile product or service.

The customer questions:

1- Why did you send me 25 emails yesterday, 25 the day before and 50 today all with the same data? ( he has 100 dids ) do you expect me to read every one? are you trying to P.$$ me off and waste my time?

10 minutes later another call.
2- I looked at my bill online and I see 100 charges of $x.00 what are they all about?

3- What was my balance the last month? I see a line "This invoice is for some charges unpaid since the last billing, and for the negative balance.;"
What is the "unpaid" and the negative balance amounts? where can I see them?

4- I see several receipts, do you expect me to write a check for each one of them?

5- I click on preview and I see
2009/12/31 Cost of calls between the 2009-12-01 12:00:02 and 2009-12-31 18:50:53
6- Are those incoming or outgoing?
7- How many minutes does that account for?

8- Where do I click to see a detailed list of all the calls made from my office so I can track the abuser here, please? OH! wait, better yet, please email me the list.

9- Are those local, long distance or my international calls?
can you separate them for me on that list please, I dont have time to be doing that.

10- I sent you $600.00 last month, I dont see it anywhere, how much credit did I have and how much do I have now? I can not make any calls this morning and I have 50 people here looking at each other.

11- What are all those 100 lines in there for?
2009-12-31 CHARGE : x.00
2009-12-31 CHARGE : x.00
"Charge: for what"???

10- What is this line in the invoice for?
2009/12/31 Amount for periode between the 1969-12-31 and 89.428060 8.25% 96.805875

Send me the info I will send someone with a check. But please turn this thing back on so I can get my people to work and be able to pay you.
Oh! almost forgot, how can I email that preview thing to me from the web page?

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I hope you can see some humor in all of this, some of the questions can be answered and the data is available at the Customer UI but not that easy. Lets keep in mind that the majority of customer does not have a clue about A2B and could care less how it works, all he wants is the easy, fast and intuitive way to get the information he is looking for to pay his bill.
This just happens to be my best customer, luckily also a good, loyal, understanding customer and a personal friend, nevertheless a "Customer", and perhaps those questions can help bring the solution and answer for those questions to a higher priority in the A2B TODO list.
For the developers:
I am well willing to sponsor some of the work, just tell me what it will take.

Happy New Year everyone.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:50 am
Posts: 96
I agree. Invoicing in A2B is an unfinished job and totally unusable for a production system. For instance you have receive a payment from one of your postpaid customers and you want to make a payment plus refill his account. Currently, you have to

1. Add the "total amount of invoice" as a payment into the system.
2. Add or Link the newly created payment to invoice.
3. Create a refill for the postpaid account.
4. Set the status of invoice to "PAID".

I have tried it and trust me its a nightmare when you have to do it for hundreds of postpaid customers.

I believe there must be a third button along side "plus & minus" buttons, which should do all the four step described above automatically.

I hope my comments would contribute to improving A2B as the asterisk billing product.

Cheers

A.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:19 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 62
In my book this is accounting 101.
A customer is always paying against an invoice, the postpaid customer will send a payment for that invoice, or have the ability to pay that invoice in full with a CCard via the web UI. with 1 button and that payment is credited to his account immediately.
As I said, postpaid or prepaid should make no diff. The credit amount is the key difference, where the prepaid credit is ZERO and the postpaid is allowed to go negative UP to the credit line it has.

Most of the time a prepaid customer will pay directly via the web and their receipt is the actual transaction record of the payment, If a postpaid customer sends you a check A2B should just generate an invoice already paid and his account balance goes positive and allowed to make a call.

Most companies and individuals use telephones as expenses and those are documented by the invoice either paid or to be paid.

A2B should have a admin screen where the clerk would login to receive payment, all my billing goes out on the 1st of the month and by the 7th I have a pile of checks to enter, one should be able to search for either of a customer name, Company name, account number, phone number, address or anything that could identify that customer, the AR clerk should than see a list of open invoices for that customer and select the one to be paid and click submit. DONE and back to search screen for the next customer. IF that customer has no open invoice the screen should allow a payment to be entered, a paid invoice is generated that can be email to the customer as a receipt of his payment and the account balance goes positive.

In this particular case a customer should never need to have any more than 1 invoice open unless one wants to separate minutes from other charges like subscriptions charged once a month. that way one can have the monthly charges always prepaid and the minutes always postpaid.

The bills (invoices) I get from my providers are all like that, my trunks, dids, voicemail, and all monthly charges for the next month PLUS all the minutes used from last month. I write 1 check or make 1 payment via a CC.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:56 pm
Posts: 4065
Hi

Areski and I spent about 3 hours on the phone yesterday discussing this, subscriptions, charges, DID billing, and the various methods of payment, and we intend to meet later this week face to face, and work through the invoicing some more.

As you know, A2Billing 1.4 very much simplified the invoicing process from version 1.3, and we believe that we have a base to work on.

As you know A2Billing runs Call Labs, so we "eat our own dog food!" however, that is a completely prepaid service, and invoicing is not involved, so our direct experience with Postpaid customers is limited, although I have had 8 years experience in the LCR business, which was exclusively post-paid, so I am not clueless.

Bearing in mind that anything we do has to be backwards compatible with earlier versions of A2Billing, suggestions as to the workflow and process of invoicing would always be welcome from those who have direct experience of Telecoms billing.

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:56 pm
Posts: 4065
Hi

Sergio - we appeared to writing at the same time - thanks for the suggestions.

I would agree with most of what you say but:-

Quote:
A2B should have a admin screen where the clerk would login to receive payment, all my billing goes out on the 1st of the month and by the 7th I have a pile of checks to enter, one should be able to search for either of a customer name, Company name, account number, phone number, address or anything that could identify that customer, the AR clerk should than see a list of open invoices for that customer and select the one to be paid and click submit. DONE and back to search screen for the next customer. IF that customer has no open invoice the screen should allow a payment to be entered, a paid invoice is generated that can be email to the customer as a receipt of his payment and the account balance goes positive.


How does one account for the fact that a customer may make either a part payment against an invoice.

Can you give us an idea of the workflow?

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 62
I see it this way:
a- When a customer goes to pay either via the web or sends a check, the payment screen will have the open invoice(s), if one chooses an invoice to be paid and the amount is less than the invoice amount the payment is entered as a credit item into that invoice, the invoice remains open, his account balance is increased by that amount immediately. The invoice is only fully closed when is fully paid. I also see that a customer will always have an open invoice from the minutes he makes a call. (see "c" below)

b- Lest also assume a customer want to pay a greater amount, that invoice is fully paid and the rest goes to a new invoice also as a line item credit for future charges thus documenting all transactions via invoices. this will also lead to the AR ledger where all line items are documented there and we are able from the ledger generate reports such as month end statements, look for specific payment or charges, payments trend, etc...

c- Since we all sell minutes on the fly, the used minutes either incoming or outgoing are 2 constant line item on an invoice.
the "preview next invoice" when requested will update on the fly those 2 line items and update that open invoice that is ready to be paid and close on the spot with a button "PAY NOW". :D
The VAT is also an open line item on that invoice also calculated on the fly.

d- Lets also account for non taxable items, in some places some specific services are not taxable. also in my case I have special telecom state taxes I need to calculate based in the percentage of the bill or percentage of the calls, those can be subscriptions added by the administrator as a line item always linked to a specific subscription type.

I dont know at the moment what all those specific taxes charges are but as soon as my accountant gets in I can make a list of those and how they are calculated and post it here. examples that comes to mind of those are the 911 fees and taxes, in-state telecom fees, out of state line charges and some other one I see on my provider's bill :) :) some are fixed amounts easy to deal with, some is a percentage calculated on some line items.

A layout like this makes the prepaid/postpaid somewaht obsolete where a postpaid customer can make himself a prepaid customer on the fly by just putting a bunch of $$ in his account. ( had one do that this holiday he was going on vacation and wanted to be sure he had enough money there for his office to make calls ) :)


I hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:50 am
Posts: 96
sergiocesar wrote:
one should be able to search for either of a customer name, Company name, account number, phone number, address or anything that could identify that customer, the AR clerk should than see a list of open invoices for that customer and select the one to be paid and click submit. DONE


This is definitely a MUST for improving A2B invoicing. Moreover I would like to suggest that a button be added on the invoice screen. This button would allow you to clear the invoice (i.e. PAID) and add a payment into the system equal to the total of invoice also it would refill the account as well. Here is a sample

Image


Cheers,

A.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:44 pm
Posts: 230
Location: Bovey, Devon, UK
These are all very valid points and having migrated from 1.3 to 1.4 I expected invoicing to be better, but if anything it's a backward step given that 80% of my customers are post pay. That said the new structures in A2B from a coding point of view are a joy. Making changes is relatively easy (full marks to Areski on that one)

I've indecently hacked the code to do what I want (searches are all on account name rather that number for instance, using the round function for tax calculations etc)

I also have PDF invoices that contain a summary sheet, then a detail sheet with;

calls by destination
Top 10 longest calls
Top 10 most expensive calls.

For me, this keeps the customer happy. More than happy to release the source code, but it may not be suitable for everyone.

In short, if you want to improve the invoicing you're going to have to roll your sleaves up.

regards


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:06 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:56 pm
Posts: 4065
Hi

Have you picked up on this thread?

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6945

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:09 pm
Posts: 38
middletn wrote:
These are all very valid points and having migrated from 1.3 to 1.4 I expected invoicing to be better, but if anything it's a backward step given that 80% of my customers are post pay. That said the new structures in A2B from a coding point of view are a joy. Making changes is relatively easy (full marks to Areski on that one)

I've indecently hacked the code to do what I want (searches are all on account name rather that number for instance, using the round function for tax calculations etc)

I also have PDF invoices that contain a summary sheet, then a detail sheet with;

calls by destination
Top 10 longest calls
Top 10 most expensive calls.

For me, this keeps the customer happy. More than happy to release the source code, but it may not be suitable for everyone.

In short, if you want to improve the invoicing you're going to have to roll your sleaves up.

regards


Can you share your success story how to do to have a post payed customer happy?
I'm looking as well to get pdf invoice or a least a print button with call detailed on admin intervace and on customer interface too.

It anybody can use a2billing for post payed service without to have call detailed?
I'am preaty sure that NOT.


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 Post subject: Re: Invoices
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 62
This are outstanding changes. I can use it big time... I just cant remember customer number :(
the problem is that hacking will make it difficult to upgrade as the hack will have to be done every time.
I think I suggested the list to be a configuration setting either with the customer name or customer number and a tooltip that would show the other on mouse-over.
Any way this could be part of the new release?

The pdf with the calls list is great perhaps the export csv could be changed so it reflects exactly what is on the screen, now it only has the destinations by number and not by "Destination name".


It would be nice to be able to send the customer at least the list of international calls on the invoice the same way AT&T does and be able to generate the local and LD calls when the customer requests. Something one can even charge for. I the same thought a way to select the columns one want in the csv report, the csv is not one to be sent to the customer as is since it has data I dont care for them to see.


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