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No more singin' the blues over billing.

Fantasy Inc. is a music company that produces and distributes compact discs, records and cassette tapes. We have one of the largest jazz and blues catalogs in the industry. Under the Fantasy umbrella are 10 different music labels including Stax, Prestige, Pablo and Original Jazz Classics.

We are headquartered in Berkeley, Calif., and share office space with our affiliate, the Saul Zaentz Company--a film producer whose credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Mosquito Coast.

Fantasy and Zaentz are served by the same phone system, which creates a need for proper billing and accounting procedures. To make matters worse, we rent office and production space to a large number of clients in the film and television industries.

We have one of the most modern and up-to-date film editing and sound mixing facilities in California. Our clients are well known in the business and outside Hollywood. They're used to working with the best and they require a broad range of services, from editing and mixing equipment to screening facilities and administrative support functions--including reliable telephone service.

Our AT&T System 75 PBX (with more than 200 extensions) could easily handle the enormous volume of incoming and outgoing calls. But we had a terrible time when it came to billing the appropriate people for phone services--especially since Fantasy and Zaentz are different companies with separate accounting records.

To keep the books correct, we had to separate all calls among 80 lines for various companies and clients.

Even more complicated was the process of billing clients who rented space from us. Many clients rented space for months at a time; others would rent by the day. It was cumbersome to separate all our calls and then approach our clients with 400-page phone bills to trace every call.

The time alone was tremendous--more than two full days each month were required to transcribe and distribute all the phone charges.

We approached AT&T and asked for suggestions. They saw immediately that we could benefit from a call accounting system (CAS) add-on to our phone switch. We started with the CAS add-on and then upgraded to the enhanced CAS Plus to get all the features we needed.

The advantages were apparent right from the start. The first month we were able to send bills to everyone within 24 hours.

Previously, it often took more than a month to trace all the calls and bill the appropriate clients. With call accounting, we are able to determine instantly who was responsible for each call.

From our company's point of view, we are generating more revenue because we are able to bill for every call made by a client. From our clients' point of view, they like being billed on demand, and their recordkeeping has improved. Clients who rent by the day can be billed for phone service the day they leave.

Besides tracking client calls, our call accounting system generates geographical reports to target more accurately where we're doing business. The area codes tell us immediately where our calls are going.

We see this as an added management tool. We can monitor trunk lines to determine the time of day and time of month that we have the heaviest volume of calls and staff accordingly.

In addition, we have better control of our internal system. Our managers can get a look at who is calling where, and how much time they're spending on calls.

The combination of more precise billing, enhanced revenue and increased control efficiency has made our call accounting system a worthwhile investment.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Call Accounting; call accounting at Fantasy Inc. and the Saul Zaentz Co.
Author:McMullen, Peter
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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