Broken promises


I read an article a while back about how some companies are paying design firms to make their billing statements easier-to-read. From what I recall, the goal is to reduce the chance that people will misunderstand the bill or miss key information like the due date. Thus, they will be more likely to pay the right amount and send their payment on time.

With this in mind, it occurred to me that while a lot of bills are quite well-designed these days, most companies just don’t have the systems in place to follow through on the experience. Case in point: my phone company has a number on the bill specifically for making a payment. Yet when you call, you have to go through a big, frustrating menu. Why even have the separate number at all? My guess is that no one bothered to program their PBX to match the billing statements.

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great that companies are improving the design and clarity of their customer-facing documents like order forms and monthly bills. But these measures can only do so much if the other parts of the customer experience are lacking. At a minimum, it pays to have some “mystery shoppers” send emails to your customer service department and call the various phone numbers on your billing statements, just to make sure that customers are getting the type of service you expect. Otherwise, you really don’t know if the right information is being provided at the other end of the line.