Like companies in most industries, communication service providers (CSPs) consider quote-to-cash (Q2C) turnaround time a key metric when assessing the efficiency of both their business operations and customer experience. CSPs are investing in shrinking Q2C cycle time — but in most cases, they are doing so on a piecemeal basis, without a big-picture plan.
In this highly competitive space, our CSP clients tell us they are losing revenue, especially in the B2B space, due to declining legacy network demand (as customers switch to networking-as-a-service, or NaaS); pricing pressure from competitors; growing threats from alternative providers; and high customer churn.
Some of this churn can be traced back to the outmoded processes that result in the painfully long lapse between a prospect’s initial interest, the time the order is completed, and the first bill is paid. CSPs tell us Q2C turnaround time is now anywhere from six to 30 weeks, depending on region (Asia-Pacific is slower than North America), the size of the CSP and order complexity. This is unacceptably slow in today’s world.
Given these challenges, as well as other factors (the growth of hybrid/remote work, for example, and the adoption of the Amazon “I want it tomorrow” mindset in not just the consumer space but business as well), CSPs are compelled to improve Q2C.
We believe CSPs need a better plan to reduce Q2C, one that automates processes that currently rely on overworked sales reps and customer service reps. Through straightforward applications of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and application programming interfaces (APIs), we’ve helped CSP clients achieve myriad gains, including the following:
- Increase in sales (typically 1% to 5%) by allowing customers near-real-time access to multiple quotes; real-time discounts and promotions; and on-demand customized or bundled product offerings.
- Cost savings (typically 15% to 35%) through self-service options for B2B customers, enabled by automation, which reduces back-office efforts. Savings also come from digital contracting; remote provisioning; zero-touch collaboration; and a drop in pricing and billing errors that in turn reduces the number of iterations required for a single order.
- Improved ROI (typically 5% to 10%) through reduced Q2C turnaround times.
- Better cash flow (typically 15% to 20%) due to decreased time for revenue realization and reduced working capital.
- Improved customer satisfaction (typically 20% to 30%) by allowing B2B customers to meet rapidly changing market demands and empowering them to operate with anywhere/anytime business models, thus reducing customer churn.
The six touchpoints
Through our large-scale modernization engagements with top CSPs across regions, we’ve identified six key Q2C touchpoints and bottlenecks, all of which can be improved through automation. In the below figure we note the current state of each touchpoint and explain how APIs and AI/ML can reduce turnaround time for each, resulting in dramatically reduced Q2C and a better customer experience.