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What is Automated Billing? 8 Benefits for Cellular IoT Devices

7 min read
Mar 7, 2024 10:30:04 AM

IoT billing would be so straightforward if all of your customers’ IoT devices were activated simultaneously and data usage was uniform across all devices. But in reality, device activations are staggered, and data usage is inconsistent due to different applications, locations, and customer needs and behaviors. Maintaining exceptional customer service and reliable connectivity also becomes increasingly challenging as your IoT device count grows. 

By adopting automated billing, you can streamline your billing processes, significantly enhance your capacity for growth, ensure operational efficiency, and boost customer satisfaction. As leading providers of a connectivity and automated billing platform designed for IoT devices, we understand what makes an automated billing system effective. In the following sections, we'll outline the core features of an automated billing system for IoT devices and highlight its advantages.

What is an automated billing system?

An automated billing system for IoT automatically calculates and bills based on device usage and subscription plans. Instead of calculating bills manually for each device, this system does it for you. Automated billing is especially helpful as your number of devices grows so that your customers get billed the right amount at the right time without you having to manually track everything. 

An automated IoT billing system should have each of the following characteristics: 

Automated invoicing

Automated invoicing ensures that customers receive and can pay their invoices immediately and consistently. When the billing cycle ends or a specific event triggers, the system automatically calculates the amount due, creates an invoice, and sends it to the customer. Automating this process eliminates manual data entry, reduces errors, and speeds up the payment cycle. This characteristic enhances operational efficiency and improves customer satisfaction by providing clear, accurate, and timely billing.

Automated revenue recognition 

An automated billing system accurately tracks and reports income in real time for compliance with accounting standards as earnings are generated. This feature ensures that device usage and revenue from subscription services are accurately recognized in financial statements, giving insights into your business’s financial performance.

Automated tax calculations

Accurately handling taxes is crucial for IoT businesses, especially those operating on a global scale. An automated billing system calculates taxes, including international and national taxes, ensuring compliance with various regulations. This automation reduces the risk of errors and non-compliance penalties, making business tax management risk and hassle-free.

Automated prorating 

Automated prorating in IoT billing systems accurately adjusts charges when customers change their service plans within a billing cycle. It automatically consolidates billing, reflecting the exact usage and service levels and offering transparency and fairness to customers while simplifying your billing management.

Automated billing cycle changes

Flexibility in subscription management is essential for customer satisfaction. An automated billing system allows customers to change their subscriptions effortlessly by automatically converting and adjusting billing cycles. This feature supports dynamic customer needs, promotes loyalty, enhances the customer experience, and reduces churn.

Automated usage-tracking

An automated IoT billing system meticulously records data usage, enabling precise billing based on actual consumption. This real-time monitoring supports fair billing practices and helps customers understand their usage patterns. It also helps you keep track of cellular usage across all devices, providing valuable insights into how their products are being used so you can optimize your service offerings, forecast demand more accurately, and identify opportunities for additional services or improvements.

Automated upgrades, downgrades, and discounts

Automating the process of subscription changes, including upgrades, downgrades, and the application of discounts, provides immediate adjustments based on customer needs. This flexibility is crucial in maintaining competitive service offerings and optimizing revenue streams by ensuring that any changes in service subscriptions are immediately accounted for in the billing cycle.

Automated cancellations

An automated billing system handles the cancellation process promptly and accurately. This feature automatically adjusts billing and service access, reducing administrative overhead and improving the customer's experience, leaving a positive last impression even as they cancel their subscription.

Automated top-ups

Automated top-ups provide a highly convenient option for customers who need additional data before their next billing cycle without requiring an upgrade to a more expensive plan. Top-ups enhance customer satisfaction by catering to their immediate data needs and opening an additional revenue stream without complicating the billing process. 

Automated device activations

The automated activation of IoT devices as they come online streamlines the integration of new devices into the billing system. This ensures that billing starts accurately from the moment of activation, supporting scalable growth and operational efficiency as the number of deployed devices increases.

Automated notifications

Automated notifications about plan changes, low data usage warnings, and upcoming payment dates ensure your customers are always up-to-date. This automation strengthens customer trust, reduces inquiries, and enhances the overall service experience.

Learn more: 10 Key Features of an IoT Connectivity Management Platform 

Challenges of manual billing for IoT devices

Manual billing for IoT devices presents significant challenges that can hinder the efficiency and scalability of operations. First, manual processes are highly prone to error, with the potential for inaccuracies in data entry, calculation mistakes, and oversight in billing adjustments. These errors not only lead to billing disputes but can also damage customer trust. 

Manual billing is also time-intensive, requiring substantial human resources to manage the billing process for potentially thousands of connected devices. This inefficient approach diverts valuable resources away from core business activities.

Additionally, manual billing systems are inherently restrictive to growth. As the number of IoT devices within a network expands, the complexity and workload of manual billing escalate exponentially, making it unsustainable for businesses looking to scale. This limitation can stifle expansion and innovation within the IoT space.

And lastly, manual billing processes often result in a lack of insights. Automated systems can analyze vast amounts of billing data to provide valuable insights into customer behavior, usage patterns, and revenue opportunities. Manual systems, on the other hand, leave your business without the data-driven insights needed to inform strategy and decision-making. 

You may also like: How to Cost-Effectively Manage IoT Data Plans

Benefits of automated billing

By automating the IoT billing process, you can efficiently manage and analyze this data to generate precise billing statements based on actual usage. Automated billing can position your company for scalability so you can easily expand your network of devices without being hampered by the logistical challenges of manual billing. Here are eight benefits of automated billing that showcase how it streamlines operations, drives growth, and enhances customer satisfaction: 

1. High accuracy

Automated billing significantly reduces the margin for error inherent in manual processes. Automated systems ensure that invoices are precise and reflect the actual data consumption. This accuracy is paramount for IoT, where billing complexities can arise from the diverse usage patterns and service tiers of numerous devices.

2. Growth-focused

Automated billing systems accommodate expansion, supporting various pricing structures and currencies globally. This flexibility is crucial if you’re aiming to scale your business since it allows you to easily adapt to different markets and pricing strategies without the constraints of manual billing processes. 

3. Greater insights

Data collected and analyzed through automated billing systems offer insights into customer usage patterns and revenue trends. These insights enable you to refine your service offerings, anticipate market demands, and tailor your strategies to meet customer needs. 

4. Consistent and predictable revenue streams

Unlike traditional billing models that often rely on one-time purchases, automated billing facilitates recurring revenue streams through subscriptions and usage-based billing. This model provides a steady and predictable flow of income and smoothes out the financial volatility often associated with manual billing and one-off sales.

Learn how to sell a subscription for your IoT product.

5. Timely payments

Automated billing systems expedite the invoicing and payment, ensuring payments are received promptly. This timeliness improves cash flow and reduces the administrative burden of chasing late payments.

6. Improved customer experience

By offering transparent, accurate, and timely billing, automated systems significantly enhance the customer experience. Customers appreciate the convenience of understanding their usage and charges without the need to query or dispute their bills.

7. Efficiency

Automated billing streamlines the entire process, from data collection to invoice generation and payment processing. This efficiency reduces operational costs and allows your team to allocate resources to more strategic areas, such as product development or market expansion, rather than getting bogged down by the labor-intensive tasks of manual billing.

8. Higher security

Automated billing platforms are equipped with robust security measures and integrate seamlessly with secure payment gateways, protecting sensitive financial information. This level of security is challenging to achieve with manual billing systems, which are more vulnerable to human error and security lapses. 

Other requirements for an automated billing system

Support for pricing variations and multiple currencies 

Given the global nature of IoT deployments, an automated billing system for IoT must be able to handle pricing variations and multiple currencies. An effective automated billing system seamlessly adjusts for different market dynamics, tax regulations, and customer preferences so your business can localize its offerings and engage with a global customer base without the complexities and errors of manual billing processes.

API connections

API connections enable the billing system to exchange real-time data with other systems, like your CRM, ERP, customer-facing applications, or IoT device management platforms. This interoperability facilitates a cohesive operational flow, ensuring that billing data remains consistent across all touchpoints and allowing for automated updates and adjustments based on device usage, customer interactions, and service changes. 

User-friendly customer portal

A user-friendly customer portal provides customers with easy access to their billing information, usage data, and account management tools. This enhances the customer experience by offering transparency and control, allowing users to view their consumption, download invoices, make payments, and manage their service subscriptions conveniently. A well-designed customer portal strengthens customer satisfaction and reduces your support workload by enabling customers to self-serve many of their needs.

Zipit's automated subscription billing platform for IoT devices

Zipit is revolutionizing how IoT providers manage subscription billing through our advanced automated billing platform. By automating critical processes like top-ups, device activations, and invoicing, we ensure uninterrupted service and a seamless billing experience for customers worldwide. Our platform supports scalability and operational efficiency so that you can focus on growth and customer satisfaction. 

Automated workflows

Eliminate manual processes like recurring billing, top-ups, and tax calculations, empowering your team to focus on strategic initiatives.

Simplified global reach

Support diverse customer segments with multi-language, multi-currency capabilities and seamless carrier integration.

Effortless scalability

Our platform adapts effortlessly to your growing device base, ensuring seamless operations regardless of scale.

Seamless customer portal

Zipit’s customer portal provides self-service activations, plan changes, and real-time usage insights for a superior user experience.

Brand consistency

Customize the customer-facing platform to integrate with your existing brand identity seamlessly.

Zipit's platform can transform your billing practices, enhancing operational efficiency and advancing your business’s growth potential. It significantly reduces operational costs by automating manual billing tasks, minimizing errors, and optimizing resource allocation. Automated subscription billing with Zipit streamlines operations, boosts customer satisfaction, and gives you access to untapped revenue streams.

Contact Zipit today to schedule a demo and see how our platform can power your IoT success.

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