I often wonder why so many suppliers that a small company such as Exetel deals with have so many inept people working for them and so many poor quality provisoning, supply and fault rectification systems. 30 years + in to the 'digital age' so many of the suppliers to Exetel have, effectively, manual systems for so many aspects of the interactions between themselves and their customers.
Sure, their billing is 'automated' (assuming you are prepared to live with an average of 10% errors in the suppliers advantage and a 'credit granting' system that takes longer to process a single transaction than it took the Egyptians to build a medium sized pyramyd for one of their less demanding kings) as are the extreme edges of the front ends of their provisioning and fault reporting/fault resolution systems - but, for almost all of them - that's it - it's an automated veneer on a still completely manual set of processes.
And much worse.....
......the people who you then have to deal with know so little about their own systems and are so incredibly defensive about those systems failings that trying to actually get them to take some sort of responsibility for addressing the issues is about as easy as getting teenage girls in Salem in the last years of the 17th century to volunteer to be tried as a witch.
In previous lives I have got myself badly financially burned by the probems with supplier billing systems in Australia so when we created Exeel back in January 2004, and being well aware of my personal failings inthe past, I was determined to use automation to the 'nth' degree in running every aspect of Exxetel that could possibly be automated. It's been over four years since wemade that decision and its been an incredibly expensive and, for long stretches of time, an extremely difficult and often very dispiriting set of processes and overcoming the proverbial 'balnk walls' imposed by so many suppliers.
We still have a long way to go, and this is a process that never ends of course, but we now have automated 'reverse billing' systems for all of our major suppliers and have also developed automated bill checking rocesses for many of our smaler suppliers. These systems have found, and had credited back, almost $A2,000,000 in overcharges over the past three years and, without them, we would not have survived - as I suspect so many small companies in this industr don't survive because they have no idea that they are paying more for the various services they buy than they should be.
Exetel have done nothing particularly clever, and truth to tell, nothing too clever in developing these systems - perhaps all we've added to the process is an unwavering determination to get it done irrespective of the road blocks imposed by suppliers but we have achieved a level of autoomation (and automated systems accuracy) that is far superior to anything put in place by the companies we deal with.
And....if you're a reasonable person....you have to ask yourself why/how can that be?
How can a very samll company with very limited personnel resources and even less money write more accurate 'reverse' billing systems than not one butfive major telcos or service providers? If it's hard to write one accurate billing system how much harder is it to write five completely differently based but far more accurate 'reverse billing' systems?
There can be only one real answer.
The only reason that a major carrier's or a major service provider's billing system is so inaccurate is that it is/they are designed and programmed that way to ensure that the carrier/service provider surreptitiously obtains some percentage of 'additional' money from each bill it sends out.
What other explanation can there be?
That some Australian carriers's managements are so incompetent, inept and uncaring and employ so many incompetent, inept and uncaring programmers that they put and leave in place billing systems that regularly over bill their customers?
Not a 'pretty' choice of explanations.
On balance I favour the incompetence/inept/uncaring explanation because the same levels of inaccuracy and 'cumbersomity' are evident in their provisioning, fault reporting and fault resoluton systems.
I was going to also write about the issues with those carrier systems today but my word counter' indicates I've already stretched yourpatience too far for one 'reading' so I'll save those views for another day.