MAY 11, 2020
By Drewe Apps
EAP Makes Complex Business Processes Simple!
ECConnect Access Portal (EAP) is an award winning all-in-one SaaS (Software as a Service) platform which simplifies complex business processes for Telecommunication service providers.
Being a SaaS platform, the benefits are immense, in particular, the affordability, regular updates and new feature launches, automated scalability, and robustness of the platform.
EAP is highly configurable and modularised, so you can ‘mix and match’ options in order to tailor the product to meet the specific needs of your business. Features are outlined below at a high-level.
- Client Management
- Service Provisioning & Management
- Automated Service Activation
- Automated Usage Rating
- Barring & Throttling
- Automated Billing
- Billing Periods
- Payment Processing
- Automatic Due Date Payment Failure Retries
- Subscription Products & Billing
- Credit Card Expiry Notifications
- Supplementary Charges
- Debtor Management
- Dynamic Credit Checking
- Prepaid Products
- Automated Prepaid Dormancy Process
- Automated Prepaid Expiry Process
- Postpaid Retail Plans
- Postpaid Bolt-Ons
- Wholesale Plans
- Retail Plan Changes
- Ownership Changes
- Customer Notifications
- Email Verification
- 2-Way SMS
- Order Funnels
- Promotions Engine
- Risk Management
- One-Time Passwords
- Multi-Criteria Searching
- SIM Management
- SIM Order Fulfilment & Logistics
- MSN Management
- Watch List
- Bulk Actions
- Slave Database
- Web Services / APIs
- Security & Compliance
EAP enables client management functions such as:
- Maintain client details as and when needed, via EAP's interface or web service
- Customisable statuses to suit your workflow and reporting requirements
- Notes and comments for tracking and reporting
- Comprehensive search options, including IVR (Interactive voice response) support
Service Provisioning & Management
EAP works seamlessly with Telecommunication Carriers' Provisioning Systems to enable you, your staff, website, and applications to provision and manage Telecommunication services, including:
- New Service Activations
- Service Porting In
- Service Porting Out
- Automated Usage Rating
- Automated & Manual Barring & Throttling
- Voicemail Management
- Radius Integration
- Mobile (Prepaid & Postpaid)
- Mobile Broadband
- Home Wireless Broadband
- Fixed Telephony
- Subscription Products
EAP also contains service qualification tools to ensure customers are being offered services that will work in their location.
Automated Service Activation
Traditionally, a customer will receive their SIM and activate their service either online (via a website or app that is connected to EAP) or via a phone call (i.e. calling your customer service team). The standard activation process then takes place.
Alternatively, EAP contains an automated activation system, which enables a service to have a future activation date set upon it being created in EAP, either manually or automatically, which will cause the service to be activated on that specific date.
EAP contains features to facilitate the port in and port out of services, with the majority of the process being automated by EAP.
The port in process is as simple as adding a service to EAP, marking it as a porting service, and sending a port in request to the carrier.
The port out process begins by another service provider sending a port out request to the carrier, this will activate the automated port out process. EAP can even charge a disconnection fee or raise a final invoice for the customer if need be.
Automated Usage Rating
EAP automatically retrieves and rates usage files, and quickly allocates rated usage to services.
The system supports CDR's (Call Data Record), MUR's (Mediated Usage Record), SDR's (Service Detail Record), XDR's (eXtensible Data Records), or any custom format, with the rating process running as often as every 15 minutes.
Where necessary, EAP's usage rating system can automatically notify customers of usage thresholds being reached, and optionally bar or throttle the service.
Barring & Throttling
Certain service types can be manually or automatically barred and/or throttled. Barring can often be performed on a usage-type basis, whereas throttling can be performed on the speed of data utilisation.
EAP takes the complexity out of billing, with automated usage rating and usage allocation, automated bill creation and super-fast automated payment processing.
EAP's industry leading billing system supports:
- Advance Billing: Advance billing enables customers to be invoiced in advance for their MMC (Minimum Monthly Commitment), while usage charges are charged in arrears.
- Arrears Billing: Arrears billing enables customers to be invoiced in arrears for their MMC and usage.
- Billing of Mobile, Tablet, RBT (Residential Broadband and Telephony), NBN (National Broadband Network), VoIP and Non-Tolling Subscription Products
EAP enables customers to have an Anniversary Billing Period or Calendar Billing Period.
- Anniversary Billing Period: A customer's anniversary billing period is defined by the day of the month their first service was connected on. This day of the month is the start date of each month's billing period. In months where the customer's bill day cannot fall within that month (e.g due to the number of days), the subsequent billing period will begin on the 1st of the next month. The end date of the customer's billing period will end the day before the start of the customer's subsequent billing period.
- Calendar Billing Period: This allows the customer's billing period to be aligned with a calendar month (1st to end of month), regardless of the date their first service was connected. Often, the primary benefit of this is that retail customer billing periods can align with wholesale billing periods at the carrier level when they are billed monthly.
EAP can automatically generate invoices for purchase orders and monthly invoices.
Invoices are stored in EAP in PDF format and can be downloaded, emailed or printed via the GUI or a third party.
The due date of invoices can be customised. The due date can be a set number of days from either the end date of the invoice (the end of the billing period) or the issue date of the invoice.
EAP's payment system can process payments automatically, or payments can be manually triggered by your team or customer.
EAP can process payments for:
- Due-date payments
- Recurring payments
- Scheduled payments
- Promised payments
- Manual payments
Supported payment methods and payment gateways include:
- Credit Card
- EP2 Payments
- Direct Debit
- Australia Post Billpay
EAP's payment system also includes a dynamic routing system which enables payments to be processed via different payment gateways based on the type of product being purchased, to spread risk.
Automatic Due Date Payment Failure Retries
EAP can automate the process of retrying failed due-date credit card payments.
When automated retries are enabled for a particular credit card failure reason, EAP will schedule the retry and can email or SMS the customer to inform them about the payment failure and subsequent retry, based on your chosen configuration. The retry will be for the same amount that failed, will retry the active payment method (credit card only), and will be at the same time (X days later) as the failure.
Up to three retries can be configured.
Until a payment is successfully processed, which covers the invoice amount in full, the invoice and client will be marked as overdue.
For further information on EAP's payment retry functionality, refer to our blog post entitled Managing Failed Payments for Telco, IoT, and Utility Providers.
Subscription Products & Billing
EAP enables service providers to offer and bill for subscription products.
Subscriptions products are non-tolling fixed-price charges that can be charged to a customer on a monthly recurring basis.
Subscription products consist of a name, a cost, availability period (from and to) to dictate when they can be offered and added to a customer, and the choice of whether or not to pro-rate the product when the subscription product is added to a customer.
For further information on EAP's subscription products and billing feature, refer here.
Credit Card Expiry Notifications
Each day, EAP can check the expiry date of client credit cards. An email can be sent automatically to remind clients if their credit card is expiring in the current month.
EAP can also check for expired credit cards, and a similar email can be sent to remind clients to update their details.
Supplementary charges can be manually added to a customer's account and charged on their next invoice, or will be automatically added by EAP in some instances.
Optional automatic supplementary charges include:
- Late Fee: EAP can charge a late fee if an invoice fails to be paid by the due date, with the charge being added to the customer's account for payment at a later date. A customer can be flagged as not needing to pay a late fee if they are ever late, if need be.
- Credit Card Surcharge: EAP can charge a credit card surcharge if a payment is made via credit card. The charge will be added to the customer's account for payment at a later date.
Supplementary charges can be added and edited (to some degree). In some cases, the supplementary charge amount can be a percentage of the charge that it relates to, otherwise the amount is a fixed-fee.
Other use-cases of supplementary charges include: Cancellation fees, dishonour fees, paper bill fee, plan change fee, and premium number fee.
EAP contains a debtor management system which can automatically send SMS's to customers prior to an invoice being due, and at certain thresholds when they are overdue (including automated actions).
Once or twice per day (based on configuration), EAP will update the 'Account Status' of customers.
If a customer has no unpaid invoice, they are not considered to be overdue, and therefore their 'Account Status' will show 'Credit' (if they don't owe anything) or 'Debt'.
If a customer has an unpaid invoice, and the due date of that invoice has passed, their 'Account Status' will show 'Overdue' and an indicator stating how many days overdue their account is.
Furthermore, when a payment is made, the debtor management system will run and the customer's 'Account Status' and days over due will be updated accordingly.
Dynamic Credit Checking
If you are providing credit to customers, you may experience increased risk by doing so, hence, having access to a customer's credit file may allow you to make a better informed decision.
EAP provides instant access to comprehensive credit reports which includes information on the credit history of an individual, as provided by Dunn and Bradstreet or Equifax. EAP provides credit reporting with variable outcomes based on your own dynamically manageable rules.
Data provided, when available, includes:
- Personal details
- List of previous credit applications
- Credit defaults
- Rectified credit defaults
- Serious credit infringements
- Judgment, debts or bankruptcy (information on the public record)
EAP enables prepaid service providers to manage, provision and bill for prepaid products including partitions, bundles, top ups and bolt ons.
Partitions and bundles are configurable for control over the exact inclusions and whether or not they need to be automatically renewed.
EAP can also invoice clients and process their payment for prepaid product purchases automatically.
For further information on EAP's prepaid functionality, refer to our blog post entitled ECConnect, EAP and Prepaid Mobile.
Automated Prepaid Dormancy Process
EAP includes a feature to notify clients of dormancy (no usage or no top up / purchase) of a prepaid service. This is generally used to optimise minimum charges applicable from the carrier. The dormancy notification feature also includes the automatic cancellation of the service on the network.
Automated Prepaid Expiry Process
"Real Money Credit" (PAYG / Pay As You Go) on the carrier includes an expiry period which is recorded and tracked in EAP. Further to the PAYG credit expiry, the carrier's Prepaid IN (Intelligent Network) also includes a deactive period which after exceeding will cause the service to be automatically removed from the Prepaid IN. EAP also tracks this expiry date. Both periods are configured in the wholesale rate plan.
EAP provides functionality to notify clients of expiry of their PAYG credit and their service. As well as forcing the cancellation of the service on the network due to the carrier not doing this automatically.
Postpaid Retail Plans
Postpaid retail plans can be configured and managed in EAP, and offered to clients. These plans can consist of the following:
- Name, contract length, setup fee, minimum monthly commitment, and validity period
- Usage charges, included usage, and usage limits
- Barring and notification settings
- Usage bucket configuration
- Wholesale plan setting
Bolt-ons are not only an additional revenue source for MVNO's, but ultimately give the customer the freedom to manage their additional usage and costs, and continue to use their service once they've reached a usage limit. A bolt-on increases the allowance and bar limit for a particular usage type on a service for the current billing period.
For more information on EAP's postpaid bolt-on feature, refer here.
Wholesale rate plans can be configured and managed in EAP, and linked to a retail plan. When a service is provisioned, the wholesale rate plan configured with the retail plan used by the service will be referenced and the configuration used for provisioning on the network.
A wholesale rate plan consists of a wholesale rate plan code, class, description, validity period, and one or many wholesale product plans.
Wholesale product plans consist of a name, code and type.
Retail Plan Changes
A plan change can be performed immediately, or scheduled for a later date. It can be setup to create a new service record locally in EAP (i.e. "Disconnect" the original service record, and create another) or keep the same service record in EAP while changing the retail plan details on it (referred to as a silent plan change). These options both enable continuation of service using the same phone number without disruption to the client.
Moving a service to a different client happens immediately and is as simple as entering the Client ID of the client you wish to change ownership to.
A new service is created and assigned to the destination Client ID. The old service will still be visible in EAP under the old Client ID but it will be disconnected.
A service can be disconnected immediately or on a specific day.
If the service was already disconnected on the carrier network, a date in the past can be selected and this will simply disconnect the service in EAP. Otherwise, a disconnection request will be sent to the carrier network at the defined period.
EAP's billing system automatically takes care of any applicable billable costs to the consumer.
EAP includes a powerful and customisable notification system, so you can contact clients at the perfect time with the right message.
Automated customer notifications such as welcome messages, porting notifications, connection status updates, and email verification etc. make communicating with customers for common events a delight.
Usage related notifications, such as usage limit notifications and barring or throttling notifications, make management of high-use services and devices simple.
EAP's notification system allows you to customise the content of messages, the ability to turn messages on or off, and to change how messages are sent (email, sms or both).
EAP also includes a powerful 2-way SMS system, which enables your customers to request their balance, add a top-up, redeem a voucher, pay their account, and much more, simply via SMS'ing your very own dedicated number.
EAP can automatically send an email to a new customer, or this can be manually sent at anytime from within EAP, which contains a link to a web page stored within the service provider's website, that is appended with a unique code, which in turn calls EAP's web service to verify a customer's email address.
EAP contains a powerful 2-way SMS system, enabling customers to trigger certain actions if and as required.
Each EAP account can be configured with a unique service number, which customers can SMS specific words to.
Upon a specific word being received by EAP via the configured service number, EAP will perform a specific action.
EAP's order funnel feature consists of a collection of web services that can be used to manage orders from commencement (a visitor first showing an interest in your product) to completion (adding the order / client and service to EAP).
For more information on order funnels, refer to our blog post entitled The Power of an Order Funnel.
Promotions and incentives play a key factor in driving customers toward a product and to boost sales. A promotion is a benefit given on a Service or Customer level.
A promotion can be configured to be triggered on a particular event or action (there are up to 18 possible events or actions that can trigger a promotion), and can be configured to add or trigger a related promotion.
A promotion can provide a monetary value, which is credited to the customer's account, of a defined amount, or, if the promotion trigger is payment/renewal related, then the promotion amount can be either a defined amount or a percentage of the customer's purchase.
When a promotion is redeemed, a message can be sent to the customer.
Promotions are configured with validity periods which includes both the period in which they can be added to a customer or service, and also the period in which they can be triggered.
A promo code can be configured and associated with a promotion. A promo code has a configurable status, validity period, and usage limit.
For more information on EAP's promotion's engine, refer here.
EAP includes a configurable risk management system, which enables customers to be classified based on payment events, which in turn limits how much the customer can be in credit (for postpaid billing) or can top-up (for prepaid billing).
A one-time password (OTP) is a system-generated string of characters that can be used to grant a user access to a system or to perform an action, as another layer of security over and above the usual username/password requirement.
EAP's web service includes the ability to create, send and validate one-time passwords.
For more information on one-time passwords, refer to our blog post entitled Why Use One-Time Passwords (OTP)?
EAP's multi-criteria search feature allows EAP users to search on up to four conditions, in order to find exactly what they're looking for with the least amount of effort.
The advantage of constructing a multi-criteria search is that fields from several areas can be searched on, such as services and clients, in the one search.
EAP's multi-criteria search feature can be accessed from all of EAP's Dashboard search pages - Clients, Transactions, Invoices, and Notifications.
EAP supports service providers with multiple brands by providing the ability to categorise customers and staff (EAP user accounts) under brands.
Each brand can have a unique invoice template.
Messages sent to customers from EAP can have a brand-specific sender (email address and/or service number) and a brand merge field can be used to specify in messages who the message is from.
User accounts in EAP can be granted access to one or many brands. This will limit access to customers of only brands the user has access to. This also impacts what is seen in search results and reports.
Retail plans can be restricted to a single brand, so that only customers with the same brand can utilise the retail plan. A retail plan with no brand defined will be available to all customers.
EAP enables a batch of SIM numbers to be uploaded and reported on. SIM numbers can then be offered to customers as part of the a new service order, or to change the SIM number of an existing service.
SIM Order Fulfilment & Logistics
EAP can produce a file each day for use by a SIM fulfilment and logistics process and/or company.
Furthermore, EAP can receive a response file, for storage of dispatch details and customer notifications.
MSN's are ordered from and supplied by the carrier.
MSN's can be loaded into EAP as and when needed via EAP's management tools. This collection of MSN's can be referred to as an MSN pool.
The MSN pool is used to fulfil service activations where a new number is requested by the customer.
When an MSN is used by a customer, it is marked as 'Used' so that no one else can use it.
A PNI Report is used to recycle MSN's so that they are available in the MSN Pool.
A PNI Report is provided to service providers by the carrier, and the report can be loaded into EAP via EAP's management tools.
The Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) is an industry-wide repository of information about Australian phone services. It primarily includes numbers, names, and addresses.
IPND data is used for the following:
- Emergency Services (for example, when you dial 000)
- Directory Publishers
- Location Dependent Services (for example, if you dial for pizza, you'll be connected to your local store)
The provision of accurate IPND data is a mandated requirement of carriers under the Telecommunications Act, access to IPND data is strictly regulated.
EAP can automatically provision data in IPND for Telecommunications companies.
EAP contains loads of reports, many of which are customisable and provide an export option. Reports can be run for many financial, provisioning, and general management related activities.
EAP's watch list feature enables customer service team members to 'short list' customers by adding them to their watch list. This allows for quick and simple access to specific customer details if and when needed.
EAP's alert feature enables alerts to be setup for specific customer related events, which will then be shown on a customer's overview page in EAP (i.e. Customer is overdue, A service is barred). This is particularly useful for alerting client service team members of specific events whilst they are assisting a customer.
EAP's includes the ability to perform certain tasks in bulk, by way of a CSV upload. In particular:
- Bulk Bundle/Partition Change
- Bulk Cancellation
- Bulk Disconnection
- Bulk Plan Change
A slave database can be configured for each EAP account, which will contain a replica of production data, that can be used for reporting purposes.
EAP contains a powerful and fast queuing system, which enables actions/tasks to be performed in an orderly manner, with tasks prioritised by importance, to ultimately spread load and to also enable multi-step processes to occur. Feel free to read more about queuing in software here.
Web Services / APIs
EAP contains a web service with a comprehensive set of functions for system interconnectivity and integration with web sites and mobile applications. It enables, for example:
- Customer data to be added, edited and viewed
- Services to be connected, edited, and disconnected
- Usage to be viewed, and services to be barred, unbarred, throttled or unthrottled
- Payment methods to be maintaince, and payments to be processed
- Invoices to be viewed and downloaded
For some business models, it may be possible to run the entire business from an external system, while leveraging EAP's extensive client management, service management, and billing functionality.
Webhooks are a way for your apps to communicate between themselves automatically in order to achieve a result.
EAP's Webhook feature lets your application know when certain events happen, such as when a service is connected, barred or ported out. Or even when a customer makes a payment or calls into your call center.
For more information on webhooks, refer to our blog post entitled A Smarter MVNO with Webhooks & EAP.
Security & Compliance
EAP is hosted in a secure facility, with round-the-clock monitoring and automated patching / upgrade mechanisms in place, to ensure a robust and secure system.
EAP contains a load balancer, to efficiently distribute load across a group of servers, to ensure the system is running at an optimal level at all times.
Each EAP account is stored in a unique database, seperate to other EAP accounts, to ensure the upmost privacy and security.
EAP accounts are secured by user name, password, and IP address, to ensure only authorised users are accessing each EAP account.
As for compliance, EAP's data management and business processes have been designed to ensure that industry regulations are met, such as publishing data to The Integrated Public Number Database (IPND).
For more information on EAP's infrastructure, refer to our blog post entitled Improved Service for EAP via Major Infrastructure Upgrade.
Interested in a demo? Reach out today!
Chief Commercial Officer