Billing and customer care systems convert the bits and bytes of digital information within a network into the money that will be received by the service provider. To accomplish this, these systems provide account activation and tracking, service feature selection, selection of billing rates for specific calls, invoice creation, payment entry and management of communication with the customer. This chapter excerpted from Telecom Made Simple provides the fundamentals for billing and customer service systems. The topics that are explained include: types of services, standard billing processes, real time billing, multilingual support, multiple currencies, inter-carrier settlements, event sources and tracking, mediation devices, call detail records (CDRs), call processing, cycle billing, clearinghouse, invoicing, management reporting, processing payments, and posting to the financial system. Also included are the fundamentals of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), account activation, account management, billing system costs, call center, collections, exchange message record (EMR), automatic message accounting (AMA), carrier inter-exchange billing exchange record (CIBER), transferred accounting process (TAP), network data management-usage (NDM-U), interim standard 124 (IS-124), applications service providers (ASPs), local number portability (LNP), and customer self-care.
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