No telecommunications audit or cost-reduction study is complete without a thorough review of local service records - commonly referred to as the “Customer Service Record” or “CSR”.

While a simple review of telecom bills can reveal cost-saving savings opportunities, Customer Service Records contain very specific information and data. Most suppliers will release a copy of a CSR when requested by a customer or auditing firm on their behalf.

What is a CSR?

A CSR is a copy of how your telephone records appear in the telephone company’s database. It contains information about each separate line charge (i.e. type of service, federal access charge, number portability charge, calling blocks on the line, 911 charge, etc.) that encompasses your monthly service charge on your bill.

In addition, a CSR reveals the service location of the account, the billing address, additional directory listings, PIC designations, hunting order, features that are being charged and on which line these features appear, calling plans that may include monthly charges, and taxes applied to each of the items on the record.

“Customer Service Record” is the most commonly used term for the internal record of your account. Others may include a “2733″ or “PBX/Key/Multiline” record. (SBC) Some LECS use the term “Service Record” or “Billing Services Record” while others have no record at all. These would include the Mom and Pop telephone companies and CLECS. They can usually type them manually with the information you request.

Universal Service Order Codes (USOC)

Customer Service Records are written in codes, commonly called USOC, or Universal (or Uniform) Service Order Codes. These codes are literally a foreign language to most, so allow yourself plenty of time to become familiar with the USOC codes used by your local carrier. A more in-depth discussion of USOC codes will be discussed in a future issue of this newsletter. At TelCon Associates, we’ve developed a database of over 10,000 USOC codes. CONTACT US for information on this valuable auditing resource.

The Four Main Sections of the CSR

A typical CSR is divided into four sections: The Header Record Section, the List Section, the Bill Section, and the S&E Section. Below you’ll find a summary of what each section contains.

The Header Record Section

This Header Record section is found at the top of the CSR, and details information about the CSR and the account itself. While CSR’s do not always contain identical information, generally the header section will include: the print date, billing period, directory, class of service (business or residential), customer identification code, account number, USOC code and quantity of service items, description of service, unit rate, total monthly charge, and tax.

The following two sections of the CSR contain important information about your company.

The List Section

The List section identifies whether or not the account is listed in the white pages of the telephone directory, as well as how the listing reads. Ironically, there is an extra charge for non-published listings, unless there is already another account listed at the same service address. The code NLST indicates that it is NOT listed in the the telephone directory although it still may be listed with directory assistance operators. SIC defines the service industry for proper Yellow Pages headings.

The Bill Section

The bill section of the CSR includes: bill name (BN1), bill address (BA) and tax area (TAR) for the account. The billing address is oftentimes different from the bill name.

The Service and Equipment Section

This section is the most important part of the CSR. Since this area lists all charges associated with each phone line, the bill section is also the area where USOC and nomenclature translations are necessary, in order to identify the exact line items. It is this area of the CSR where you will spend the bulk of your auditing time.

Obtaining and reviewing CSR’s is an important part of the telecom auditing process. A thorough job can be a time consuming and tedious, but the cost savings and increased efficiency is well worth the time and effort.

About the Author

Robert Potter is Vice-President and Senior telecom consultant for TelCon Associates, a 35 year old telecom bill auditing and telecom bill management consulting firm.