The lack of effective Information Design can lead to utility bills that are too data intensive and difficult for the average consumer to understand.
The truth is, many utility companies continue to use outdated systems and methods to produce these bills. In a recent review of several samples, we noted that a lot of bills are just “data dumps” that display the usage and billing information the exact way it appears in the recordkeeping system. This confuses and frustrates the consumer and that can lead to late and/or incorrect payments, increased calls to customer service, or worse, loss of business.
Utility companies can save time, money and create a better customer experience by creating bills that allow consumers to quickly and easily Locate, UNderstand and Act on the information (LUNATM).
Here are a few tips from the LUNA file:
- Change industry jargon to plain language – remember your customers are NOT in the utility business!
- If jargon is mandated, create clear, easy to understand definitions of the most confusing terms.
- Use the pyramid process for organizing information. i.e., from top down, high level summary to detail.
- Remember most people don’t get beyond page one, so keep the most important information on page one. Customers should be able to understand and pay the bill based on information on page one – put detail and explanations next.
- Use important message areas judiciously. Keep the messages short, and make sure they are new and important. Don’t repeat the same message every month. And, remember only use one or two messages at a time, more than that dilutes the importance and value of each one.
- Just because other companies do something cute – it may not be right for you. This request came from an actual customer. “Don’t show your phone number as your name.”…..like 1-800-NENERGY. Just picture in your mind someone who has no power trying to decipher that in the dark!
- White space is your friend; it makes bills easier to navigate and information easier to locate. DO NOT fill up the page!!
- Visuals can help explain data – use bar charts for usage history.
- Use color judiciously – yes, it makes it “pretty” but more importantly, if used correctly color can help the reader locate and understand the information.
- Use one font family, but use a variety of weights and point sizes to create a hierarchy of information.
So how easy is it to create clear communications? Not difficult if you follow the LUNA methodology or you could just hire the LUNAtic!