Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Better Bills

Designing usable bills ...

"The bill is a cornerstone communication in the customer experience, especially when it comes to billing for services. Customers want to easily understand and pay their bills, and businesses want to get paid on time. One would think a business would value the bill enough to invest in a thoughtful design. Yet many bills are poorly designed, causing needless confusion and frustration for customers and businesses alike—not to mention expensive customer service and customer churn. To encourage forward progress in the design of bills, this column profiles three common types of bill readers, discusses nine tips for improving bills, and notes some common implementation challenges.

Types of Bill Readers

An important consideration in creating better bills is, of course, how customers read them. To provide guidance for the design of bills, first I’ll describe a few common types of bill readers in a business-to-consumer setting, based on my own experience. As with all UX design, considering the specific types of customers a business has, what industry a business is in, and other related issues of context is critical to designing for its specific types of bill readers.
The Skeptical Inspectors

The bill readers I’ll call skeptical inspectors tend to monitor budget closely and pay strict attention to anything financial. Each time skeptical inspectors receive a bill, they promptly read its details very thoroughly and literally. Consequently, these bill readers quickly notice errors and inconsistencies. If skeptical inspectors perceive a problem with a bill, they do not hesitate to call customer service about it. Although, because such bill readers are attentive to their finances, they also tend to pay consistently and on time.
The Alert Scanners

Alert scanners pay fairly close attention to their finances and also tend to pay consistently and on time. These bill readers look at their bills either upon receiving them or at their regularly planned time to pay bills. When reading a bill, such bill readers scan its key information, especially the amount due. Usually, alert scanners do not read a bill’s details unless they see a problem or something unexpected. If, after reading the details, alert scanners still have concerns or questions about a problem they noticed, they are likely to call customer service. Alert scanners may also read details if a bill is the first one they’ve received from a business."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

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