Companies are starting to get requests from their customers for some sort of relief during this crisis. Depending on the customer request and what type of contract they have, the course of action you take will vary. Here are some methods you can use if you decide to take action on the customers request. These suggestions will also include ways to track these actions so nothing falls through the cracks once things are back to normal.
We are in the process of developing an alert / report to help track these actions and show you some trending on how often it's happening. ID570 will email you a list of the actions taken daily based on the note types you use to record the action. There will be an on demand SSRS report that can be ran to show trending data on the actions. We are suggesting you setup specific note type(s) to document these actions. For anything Covid-19 related, we are suggesting two note types. CovidReq to indicate the customer has requested relief. You can record the specific details on the customer request within the note. Also one for CovidAct to indicate you took action on the customer request. You can record the specific action you took within the note. These are just the note types we are suggesting for now but you can use any note type you want. Go to Tools \ Lists and Codes \ Note Types to create the new note type(s). List the note type(s) you want to track \ trend in Variable 1 of your subscription to ID570. See more on ID570 here.
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Suspend Contract Billing
Suspend contract billing for a period of time
If you want to just stop the contract from billing for a period of time you can uncheck the bill contract box on the billing/contact tab of the contract. Make sure to record a note with the details on the agreement and how long the contract should not be billed for. You can also choose to flip the contract status to pending billing so the customer cannot incur any service calls or orders against this contract while it is in this state.
You can also create a custom property to record the exact date the billing should be turned back on. An eview can be created to filter on this custom property to track when contracts need to be put back to normal. More on creating eviews with custom property data here
Use ID114 to monitor contracts that have the bill contract box unchecked. More on ID114 here
When the contract needs to return to normal billing you can either bill it out on it's normal cycle and send individual invoices for each billing cycle it is behind in, or you can use the base/overage cycle consolidation method.
Check the Use base cycle consolidation box on the installment based tab of the contract.
Check the box to use overage cycle consolidation.
This will consolidate all the cycles that the contract is behind on billing onto one invoice once it is pushed through the contract billing queue. Remember to go uncheck the Use cycle consolidation boxes if you do not want to allow cycle consolidations going forward. Leaving this setting on will not affect anything as long as the contract does not get behind on billing going forward.
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Reduce Contract Base/Usage
Reduce base and/or usage allowance for a period of time
In the case that you need to lower a base rate, you can just manually change the base rates at the contract level or equipment level if you are using equipment level base rates. In a lot of cases when there is a base rate, there is a corresponding allowance that will probably need to be adjusted too. You can either manually change the covered copies field or use the blue arrow next to the covered copies field to adjust the covered copies for the next billing period going forward. The blue arrow will not adjust the covered copies for the current billing period the contract is in. Manually adjusting the covered copies field does adjust the covered copies for the current billing period it is in.
If this is a meter group base level contract, then adjusting the covered copies manually will automatically adjust the meter group base amount also, for the current billing period going forward. Adjusting the covered copies using the blue arrow will adjust the meter group base amount also, for the next billing period going forward.
Make sure to also record the details of what the settings were originally and what the changes were in your note type on the contract. Also record the date the contract should return to normal in the custom property if you want to go that route.
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Increase Contract Billing Cycle
Increase billing cycles for a period of time
You can also just increase the billing cycle to cover the period of time you don't want to bill your customer for. i.e. they have a monthly contract and you don't want to bill them for 3 months. You can click the pencil edit button next to the billing cycle on the base and/or overage and change the cycle from Monthly to Quarterly. Warning: You cannot change the billing cycle when rate increases are in place. Those will have to be removed if you choose to go this route on a contract that has rate increases in place. It will not hurt anything to remove the rate increases and re-input them at a later date if you choose to do so.
Warning: The pencil edit button overall is not to be used lightly but the change of the billing period has numerous impacts that aren't easily reversed. Do not change the billing period highlighted in yellow above!
Again, make sure to also record the details of what the settings were originally and what the changes were in your note type on the contract. Also record the date the contract should return to normal in the custom property if you want to go that route.
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Waive Contract Rate Increases
Waive any rate increases that may take effect during this time
If the customer is coming up on a rate increase during this time, you may be able to negotiate forgoing the rate increase instead of changing any current billing parameters.
Click the dollar sign rate increase button and remove any rate increases that fall within this time frame by clicking the delete button.
Make sure to record the details of what rate increases you removed in your note type on the contract.
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Issue Contract Credit
Issue a credit on next contract billing
In some cases you may want to just issue the customer a one time credit. Go to Tools \ Lists and Codes \ Contract miscellaneous charge codes and create a new miscellaneous charge code. We suggest creating a new GL Account to record these types of credits so it's easier to see the total revenue dollars you have credited during this time. Check the boxes to bill with base and overage so this charge code can be used on contracts with a base and/or an overage billing.
Once the new miscellaneous charge code is created go to the miscellaneous tab of the contract, click Add. Select the new charge code, set the quantity to 1 and input the credit amount as a negative in the rate field. Make sure to select Bill Only Once, unless you negotiated for the credit to be billed more than once.
Make sure to record the details of the credits in your note type on the contract.
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Offer IT Service
Offer the customer IT services for the amount of base on their normal contract
If your company offers IT services, you may be able to negotiate with the customer to have their normal contract dollars moved over to IT services for them to use during this time. To move the base dollars over to an IT contract you could zero out the base charge and covered copies on the normal contract, then setup an IT contract and bill out the amount of base from the normal contract on the IT contract. Make sure to record these changes and the date the contract should return to normal in your note type and custom property.
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Increase terms to allow customer more time to pay
One of the easiest methods to give a customer relief would be to just increase the amount of time they have to pay their invoices. If this is the route you want to take then change the terms on the customers record on the billing tab. Remember to also change the terms on the billing/contact tab of the customers contract record, if they have a contract. Again, make sure to also record the details of what the settings were originally and what the changes were in your note type on the contract. Also record the date the account should return to normal in the custom property if you choose to go that route.