Operating an ISP can feel like an endless list of to-dos, emails, and mundane tasks that consume entire days. There are many businesses that place a large focus on the viability of their product, the efficiency of their employees, or the monthly recurring revenue without considering the most valuable resource; time. With Sonar, you have a partner to grow your business with, but more than that, you have a tool that can help you automate day-to-day business operations. Leveraging automation with your Sonar instance will give you back time in your day and save you money.
Whether you view automation as a means to an end or an evolution to business as we know it, there’s no doubt about its effectiveness. Making sure you know what you can, and what you should automate will make your life easier, and make running your business simpler. Keep reading to find the nine things every Internet Service Provider should be automating.
Billing & Invoicing
The first hurdle you’ll approach when you think about tasks that consume your time is customer billing. Transitioning from manual billing to automatic billing runs can be daunting, not only because the idea of change can be scary, but because of the complexity that comes with setting up an automatic system.
Sonar makes this easy by automatically calculating billing due dates, transaction amounts, prorated amounts, invoice generation, late fee calculations, and account delinquency. Automating billing will be one of the things that can save you time through days, a month, or the year. Removing human error from your billing system will also help you bill customers more accurately, providing the potential to increase revenue by consistently collecting payments.
Business Intelligence Reporting
Accurate data and customer reporting can transform your business from good to great, and gathering this reporting information manually means endless customer emails, follow-ups, phone calls, and strategy meetings. Having a robust business intelligence system that can gather this data for you means you’ll save time and effort that can be better applied elsewhere.
With Sonar BI, you can take the automation once step further. Whether you’re reporting on customer usage, revenue information, payment information, or employee efficiencies, you can schedule the report to collect and send the relevant information to any number of recipients. This way, you can quickly capitalize on opportunities to collect more revenue, or save money.
Customer Payment Collection
Customer Portals are a key part of ensuring customer satisfaction, and making sure to leverage the tools given to you to have customers manage their payments and account management will free up time via employee resources. With Sonar, we provide a fully realized customer portal that can be deployed and maintained automatically after its initial guided setup.
Using a Customer Portal can increase overall satisfaction, reduce customer churn, and minimize unnecessary communication with customers. Self-hosting your customer portal gives you the tools to allow your customers to make payments, update payment methods, and manage account settings, effectively automating a significant portion of your customer relationship management.
Ticketing & Mass Communication
A good ticketing system is worth its weight in gold, enabling you to communicate with your customers quickly and easily, accommodating their contact preferences. Being able to automatically sort and filter your received tickets can simplify interactions by avoiding unnecessary triaging and ownership confusion. In the same vein, mass email communication can be equally time-consuming, as determining which customers should receive which communication would ordinarily require manual tasking. Creating your own mail server also introduces the risk of personal information escaping your control, which means having a reliable system could save you a serious headache.
Sonar takes care of ticketing by automating the assignment of tickets based on inbound email address, ticket group, account type, or account status, and will apply the same logic when creating mass emails, giving you a list of recipients based on filters when creating the message. Everything sent to customers can also be personalized through the use of dynamic variables to ensure that every recipient understands who the email is coming from, who it’s for, and what it’s about.
Automating your marketing is another way to save time and money, even if the money saved can be more difficult to quantify. For example, Sonar includes a built-in integration with MarketBroadband to support the automation of your marketing efforts. They perform the user applicability research and operate at a much larger scale when compared to what may be your individual marketing efforts.
This means that, while more expensive than free, or low-cost personal, marketing, the overall reach is often greater than what a single organization could accomplish at the same price. This provides a double-dollop of value by presenting a direct path to receiving a return on your investment by reaching new customers and increasing your revenue.
Serviceable Addresses & Serviceability Checks
Knowing where you can provide service is critical to having new customers sign up to your services. There’s nothing more discouraging than being sent an incredibly attractive marketing offer only to be told that you aren’t eligible for it when you call in. Automating this serviceability checking will save your Sales team and customer’s time.
There are many ways to automate Serviceable Addresses, whether you’re importing a complete list gathered externally or using a 3rd party integration like TowerCoverage. Being able to automatically qualify customers based on your actual service coverage is an incredibly helpful tool when your goal is to save money by increasing efficiency, rather than by cutting expenses.
Field Work & Technician Scheduling
Managing your technician dispatches and field work requirements is a complex, multi-stage process. Any automation introduced into this workflow has the potential to return the time investment many times over. In this context, unfortunately, we don’t mean replacing your technicians with robots. Rather, automating the availability schedules and job flows to ensure availability and consistency for all your scheduled jobs.
With Sonar, you’re able to set up a schedule for your technicians that is dependent on the job type being scheduled. This way, technicians with different skills are segmented not only in availability, but also by skill coverage. This schedule can also be configured to repeat for a specific amount of time or indefinitely, providing full control over your schedule automation.
To address consistency, you want to make sure your technicians have a list of tasks or requirements on each job. Manually applying these tasks to each job means your dispatch team will need incrementally more time to assign each job, and that adds up in personnel hours very quickly. Using templates for tasks removes this consistency bottleneck, providing baseline requirements for each job in a way that maintains your quality standards while saving time across the board.
Lastly, being able to automatically dictate next steps when a job completes, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, is another highly recommended field work efficiency. Opening tickets for jobs means follow-ups are always conducted, raising the bar for customer satisfaction and reducing churn rates. With Sonar, you can easily open tickets, apply services, change account statuses, or schedule further work based on the status of the job.
Bandwidth Usage Tracking
Tracking customer data usage allows you to more accurately prepare your network for projected usage spikes, and protect your capacity from frequent abusers. Whether your network implements a single authentication method or combines multiple based on the technology, finding a way to automate data collection makes your service stronger.
Without automation, you would need to collect the usage statistics from each of your network devices, associate it their IP addresses and MAC addresses with their customer account, and manually cross-reference their allowable bandwidth. With Sonar, each account will have their usage tracked automatically, and if limits are exceeded then the customer’s service will be automatically restricted.
Preventing network abuse saves you from making unnecessary upgrades to your infrastructure or equipment, and being able to reference that data effortlessly means you can accurately gauge historical trends when preparing capacity changes.
Network Outage Monitoring & Alerting
Driving customer sign-ups, automating service checking, and tracking data is ultimately meaningless unless your network is reliable enough to retain your customers. Being on top of your network status allows you to react immediately to any troublesome devices or network segments. Automation in this case relies more on passive network scanning, and ensuring that when a device is disconnecting, an alert is generated immediately.
Without automation, it’s not uncommon for a device to be experiencing intermittent issues with no one being the wiser because 24/7 monitoring is almost impossible without some element of external automation. Sonar provides a poller to passively scan your network devices, in addition to a completely customizable alerting rotation that will generate an in-app notification and an email whenever a device has a problem.
Whether you’re preparing to expand your business or you’re streamlining your operations, investing in automation is a surefire way to save your business, employees, and customers time and money. Partnering with Sonar will provide you the tools you need to get started, and our GraphQL API adds fuel to the fire in the pursuit of efficient automation. Knowing where your pain points are in your business is a great way to get started, and setting up a demo can highlight some of the ways Sonar can help shore them up.