Like any service business, a telephone answering service strives to provide quality service to its clients. While performing outstanding work stands as a key answering service goal, a critical support component is billing for all the work done. A failure to bill for all services rendered—along with under billing and delayed billing—can push an otherwise excellent answering service into financial misfortune, starting with negative cash flow and moving toward bankruptcy. Billing is that important. Unfortunately it too often exists as a necessary chore that no one wants to do and serves to distract from the other aspects of running a top-notch answering service. One solution is to outsource billing to a billing services company. However, most billing services companies, with their one-size-fits-all-industries approach struggle to deal with the nuances and intricacies of answering service billing. The solution is a company that understands both billing and answering services. With this powerful one-two punch, the decision to outsource becomes easy, with the expected outcomes of: Accurate Billing: Producing correct invoices is an essential first step. Overbill and clients complain. Under bill and there’s not enough revenue to pay staff and vendors. Neither is acceptable. Answering service billing companies have mastered the process of gathering reports, merging statistics, and generating bills. Using proven checklists and performing periodic reality checks, they avoid errors and catch glitches before sending invoices, not after it’s too late. Timely Billing: A billing delayed one day, delays receivables by one day. A billing delayed for one week delays receivables by seven days. Can your cash flow weather a one-week delay? And delays do happen: the billing person is out, the invoicing computer crashed, the printer broke, the postage machine is on the fritz, or the email server refuses to send. Each represents a single point of failure. On the other hand a billing service company avoids each of these potential problems by having depth in their staff and backups for their technology. For them a sick person or broken piece of equipment is a short-term annoyance, not an insurmountable roadblock to generating and sending invoices on schedule. Optimal Billing: While charging clients for no more and no less then agreed to is essential, what happens when the agreed to rate is no longer appropriate? Having a correct invoice that undercharges for the work done is almost as bad as an error that under bills. In both instances, the invoice amount fails to reflect the work done. Sophisticated answering service billing companies perform a rate analysis each month to identify underperforming clients who need to receive rate increases. These clients may be on old rates that need to be phased out or mismatched rates that no longer align with the clients’ usage. Regardless of the reason, the clients whose bills fail to match the scope of the services provided need to receive strategic rate increases to move them from unprofitable status to profitable. Conclusion: While using a billing service for your answering service may seem like an extra expense, it’s actually a cost-effective solution. It’s also a means to reduce stress: the stress to produce accurate bills, on time, and for the optimal amount. Besides, each time your billing service does a strategic rate increase they generate extra money for you that month and every month thereafter for as long as those clients are on service. In no time at all, your answering service billing provider may end up making you more money than their service costs. Learn more about billing services from Call Center Sales Pro at this year’s NAEO conference, March 12-15. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier contact center consultancy that offers a comprehensive billing service for telephone answering services to maximize revenue and reduce billing stress. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.