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The Importance of Optimizing Bill Design for Customers Who Still Prefer Paper Bills

April 19, 2021

There’s no denying that some of your customers still prefer to receive their utility bills by mail. It’s probably not your Gen Z or Millennial customers, but a substantial 29% of consumers still like paper bills.1 Why the loyalty to paper? The most common reasons are that many customers find them easier to review and they serve as a reminder to pay. As billers, you would be remiss to ignore the importance of paper bills. Sure, we’re moving more and more toward digital but lots of customers just aren’t there yet–and maybe never will be. It’s for this reason that you need to pay attention to what your paper bills look like, how easy they are to understand, and find ways to educate customers on how best to read the bill to fill in knowledge gaps. Lucky for you, we’ve got some tips for doing just that.

Bills Are Important for Customer Satisfaction

KUBRA research has shown that understanding is key to having a positive experience with bills. Specifically, the KUBRA 2020 Utility Bill Design Report found that the top three factors that contribute most to a positive experience with utility bills are: ease of understanding, customers know what they owe and when it’s due, and they know what they’re paying for. By contrast, the same report found that the top three reasons consumers cite for a negative experience with their utility bills are: a higher bill than expected, billing errors, and too much jargon. 

 

Besides improving customer satisfaction, a well-designed and easily understandable bill has upside for billers too. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that a well-designed bill paired with FAQ and other online resources can significantly reduce call center volume. This is great news because according to the KUBRA 2021 CX Report, 60% of customers say they would call their utility company when they have a question about their bill or if they get surprised by a high bill. Also, intuitive design speeds up bill payments, increases loyalty and retention, and reinforces brand values.

Utilities Should Consider the Following When Designing Bills 

  • Use full-color printing because color bills improve the speed companies are paid by 30%.2 They're also more appealing, catch the eye of customers, and increase brand recognition. Include graphs and images for data to encourage customer engagement. Avoid technical jargon, choosing instead to use plain language wherever possible. 
  • Include only relevant and useful information, highlighting the amount the customer owes and the payment due date. This is because the amount due (80.4%) and bill due date (61.4%) topped the list of the most useful information for consumers. Make sure usage information is front and center too because 51.4% placed it on their top three most valuable list.3
  • Consider removing the Terms and Definitions and putting them online as they topped the list of least valuable information with 45.6% of customers saying they didn’t find them useful. 
  • Show how electricity is being used because 57.7% want a breakdown of usage that shows if it is their thermostat habits or something else that is causing an increase in their bills.
KUBRA offers document and bill redesign services to support enhancements to your printed statements and electronic bills. These services are designed to help improve readability, layout, and brand consistency.

Onserts Are a Key Messaging Tool

Onserts are a great messaging tool because they convey similar information as inserts but instead of being included inside the bill envelope, messages and information are printed right on the bill. Since 94.5% of consumers open and look at their bills and 39.5% of consumers immediately discard the paper inserts sent with bills, it’s clear that when it comes to getting messages read, onserts are the better option.4 Onserts also reduce the amount of inventory you have to maintain. By printing messages directly on statements, you have fewer inventory items to manage and avoid the extra work involved at production time.

 

And finally, as consumers become more environmentally conscious, onserts are a greener option. By placing messages directly on documents you’re already mailing, you reduce the amount of paper used. 

Communication Is Key for Understanding Bills

Take the time to develop resources that help customers understand their bills. Creating a video that illustrates how to read a bill and where to find key information can be extremely helpful. You should also create a comprehensive and accessible FAQ that speaks specifically to billing questions, like how will I receive my bill and how do I check my usage. Since education and awareness are very important for customer satisfaction, be sure to communicate information around how to read the bill or changes in bill design in a variety of channels to reach as many customers as possible.

Maximize Customer Engagement with Well-Designed Bills

Despite advances in digital billing, there is still a portion of the population that likes to receive their bills in the mail. These customers are looking for a bill that clearly displays key information, like the amount due and payment date, so they can pay their bills quickly and move on with their day. KUBRA can work with you to create and design bills, statements, invoices, and letters that meet the expectations of your customers. With KUBRA iMail™, you can effortlessly compose and design business-critical documents that will meet the needs of all your paper-loving customers, boosting customer engagement and satisfaction in the process.

 

Sources:

  1. KUBRA Utility Consumer Billing and Payments Report 2020.
  2. Xerox “Make Color Your Strategic Advantage”, April 2011.
  3. KUBRA 2020 Utility Bill Design Report.
  4. Ibid.

 

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