The volume discount plans tool is great for making automatic price adjustments and allotments. It allows you to adjust prices depending on the volume of services consumed by customers, allocate a certain volume of free services and transfer a balance to a sub-wallet that has been designed for a particular type of service. These are the three main discount schemes:
- Discounts – using discounts, you can adjust prices depending on the volume of service consumed by customers. This encourages them to use the service more in order to receive the discount (e.g., spend $20 for calls to the UK and get a 30% discount for the next calls during the month). You can also use discounts to make special offers (e.g., new customers receive 50% off for 10 GB of Internet traffic).
- Quotas – with quotas you are able to allocate a defined volume of services for your customers free of charge. A quota is usually combined with a recurring fee (a subscription). For example, provide 100 minutes for calls to Canada and 3 GB of Internet traffic for a $30 monthly fee.
- Service wallets – this tool makes it possible to divide the customer’s balance into virtual sub-wallets. Each sub-wallet is designated for a specific service and destination group. Therefore, money transferred to a sub-wallet can only be used for a specific service (e.g., only for calls to the US or only for sending SMS, etc.). For example, a customer wants to have unbroken access to the Internet even if all his available funds have been consumed by making calls. So the customer tops up his Internet service sub-wallet by $10 using a credit card. The customer receives 5 GB of Internet traffic that can be used even when his available funds reach zero. Service wallets can be topped up via the self-care or administrator web interface.
Use these discount schemes separately or combine them with each other to get the best solution for your business model. For instance, your service may include 300 free monthly minutes to US & Canada, 100 free monthly minutes to Western Europe, and a special offer of 15% off calls to India after the customer has called for more than 200 minutes. Each of the conditions above is represented by an individual discount scheme. Taken all together, they will be grouped as volume discount plan “EasyCall,” which can then be applied to a specific account.
Use this discount scheme to provide a discount for a defined usage period – daily, weekly, semimonthly, or monthly. When the usage period ends, the discount counters reset. For example, provide a monthly deal of the first 100 minutes for calls to the UK at a standard rate, the following 200 minutes at a 20% discount, and all following calls to this destination at a 30% discount. When the next usage period begins, the customer’s calls to the UK are charged the standard rate.
You can also provide one-time discount. This discount type is a great tool for providing a permanent discount with no time limitation. For example, apply this discount type to provide a rate that is 10% cheaper for a wholesale partner.
A detailed description of how the billing engine calculates a discount is considered in the following example:
- You have the discount rule “first 200 minutes – regular rate $0.20/min, 15% discount after 200 minutes” for calls to Israel.
- During one month the customer spends 230 minutes on the phone.
In this case, I will charge the customer 200*0.20 + (30*0.20 – 15%) = 40 + 5.1 = 45.1. Sometimes people get confused, and will assume that the charges in this case should be 230*0.20 – 15% = 39.1, which is incorrect. (In order to provide a discount to the total amount of services consumed use the Bundle Promotions feature).
This is the most common way to provide a set of services for a recurring fixed fee. To do this, create a quota for your service, then create a subscription plan and assign them both to the same product. For example, you can provide a triple-play package that includes quotas such as 1000 minutes for domestic calls, 1 GB of Internet traffic, and 150 domestic SMS – for a monthly subscription fee of $40. Once the quota is consumed, the service is unavailable until the following month.
Service wallet with zero initial balance
Sometimes customers want to reserve an amount of money for a specific service so they can freely use their available funds for other services. If a customer runs out of money at some point, the money in reserve remains available and the customer can still spend it only for the needed service. Within a single volume discount plan, the administrator can configure as many service wallets as needed. The volume discount plan can be assigned to a product, a customer or one of their accounts. When assigned, the service wallet with zero initial balance is empty, so in order to use it, the customer or administrator needs to top it up. Alternatively, there is the option of configuring a service wallet with an initial value.
Service wallet with an initial balance
Use this service wallet scheme to grant a certain volume of service to your customers for one time. For example, grant your IPTV customers 1 GB of Internet traffic free of charge as a promotional offer. Once the traffic is consumed, the customer may decide whether to top up their service wallet for more Internet service or not.
Service wallet top-up
This is a fast and easy-to-use tool to reserve customers’ money for a specific service. The administrator or user can top up the service wallet at any time via their web interfaces. A top-up is an efficient way to increase your payment flow since you, as the service provider, can sell a larger volume of service at a lower price. For example, you can offer 10-minute calls to Germany for $3; 50-minute calls for $10, and 100-minute calls for $15. The user selects the most suitable offer among the three options and either tops up his service wallet via the customer/account self-care web interface or requests this service from the administrator.
Consider the following example:
John Doe is a prepaid customer of EasyCall Inc. To be on the safe side, John Doe wants approximately 10 SMS and about 100 minutes for domestic calls in case he runs out of money using other services. He accesses the customer self-care interface and sees these available options:
- 20 SMS for $3 and 50 SMS for $6;
- 50 minutes for $5, 100 minutes for $9, and 200 minutes for $15.
John Doe buys 20 SMS for $3 and 100 minutes for $9, his credit card is charged for $12. Now he can use other available services (e.g., he surfs the Internet and makes international calls) feeling confident that this will not impact his ability to make domestic calls and send SMS messages.
Service wallet top-ups using payment processors require user redirection to their website
Customers can top up their service wallets using payment processors that require user redirection to their website for payment processing, such as PayPal, Skrill, and Payarena.
When a customer initiates a top-up from their self-care interface, they are redirected to the payment processor portal to provide their credit card/account information and confirm payment. Upon payment processing, the customer is redirected back to the self-care interface where they can view the updated service wallet balance.
Service restrictions for service wallets
With PortaBilling you can fine-tune service provisioning for possible situations like when a customer’s service wallet for accessing the Internet is empty. For this situation, configure the system to:
- block service until the customer tops up their service wallet; or
- continue to provide service but draw the funds from other applicable service wallets or from the customer’s main balance.
Thereby you clearly define the system’s behavior and also facilitate service provisioning.
Service wallets with a lifetime
One popular business model is to offer service provisioning for a certain period of time. This way, service providers encourage customers to make frequent top-ups so they can keep using the service.
With PortaBilling, you can introduce this business strategy by using service wallets that have a lifetime. Each top-up extends a service wallet’s lifetime. Once a user makes a top-up, they can use the service for the period defined (i.e. the lifetime), after which it expires. Thus, the more a user tops up, the longer they can use the service. Note that service wallets that have an initial balance defined do not have an initial expiration date (i.e. the initial balance can be used unrestrictedly. It obtains its lifetime from its top-up).
If a user tops up a service wallet before it expires and there is an unused quota/balance, it is added to the top-up quota/balance. The service wallet lifetime, however, is not added: if the top-up lifetime is for less time than the current one, the service wallet lifetime is not extended.
Consider the following example:
You are the Internet service provider and offer the following top-up options with your Start Internet service wallet:
- 5 Gb for $5 and a lifetime of 2 days;
- 10 Gb for $8 and a lifetime of 5 days;
- 25 Gb for $20 and a lifetime of 10 days.
John Doe has signed up for the Start Internet product and makes a $5 top-up. He sees that he has a 5 Gb Internet quota that is available for 2 days. During the day, he uses 4 Gb, so he needs to make another top-up to continue surfing the Internet. He makes an $8 top up and now he has an Internet quota of 11Gb (by adding the unused 1 Gb from the previous top-up plus the new top-up for 10 Gb) which is available for 5 days. If John Doe does not make another top-up in 5 days, he will receive a notification about his quota expiration.
Note that if you grant a user some Internet quota (e.g., either as a promotion or compensation for quality issues), it will not affect the service wallet lifetime. Thus, if you provide John Doe with 1 Gb extra, his increased 12 Gb quota will still expire in 5 days.
By offering service wallets with different lifetimes, service providers can introduce marketing campaigns that facilitate service provisioning and boost sales.
The table below matches the most common business cases and discount schemes suitable for them. Use this table to select the proper option for your own business model.
|The customer receives a permanent discount||The service provider grants a wholesale customer an unlimited 10% discount for calls to the US and Canada.||One-time discount|
|The customer has a monthly discount for a service||The service provider makes a special offer for business customers: “Spend $100 for calls to Germany and get 50% off all following calls to this destination this month.” To receive the 50% discount again for the following month, the customer must spend $100 for calls to Germany at the standard price.||Monthly discount|
|The customer receives a defined amount of service free of charge||The new subscribers of the “triple play” service receive 2 GB of Internet traffic for free.||Service wallet with an initial balance|
|The customer pays a monthly fee and receives a defined set of services||The customer pays $30 monthly and receives:
||Monthly quota (+ subscription)|
|The customer wants to maintain a separate balance for Internet service and for international calls||The customer’s current balance is $100. At the customer’s request, the administrator transfers $20 from the main balance to the Internet service sub-wallet and $10 to the international calls sub-wallet. The customer receives 5 GB of In|