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Billing trends leading to loss of customer trust

From the Knowledge Centre

Echo's latest consumer research reveals that poor billing practices and pushing direct debit arrangements, leads to consumers losing trust in businesses...

One in seven customers are paying more than necessary due to being placed on a non preferential tariff or being pushed into direct debit arrangements that lead to a build up of credit. That's what a representative sample of 1,000 UK adults told us recently.

This new research adds further fuel to the fire of other similar reports, with the Daily Mail reporting last year that around eight million households on fixed direct debits for energy were thought to be owed money, for example.

And, given that two thirds or people are thought to be paying their monthly bills by direct debit, this upward trend could be eroding both relationships and trust between consumers and their service providers.

This is not the only billing issue that is negatively affecting customer trust - poor customer engagement is also compounding the problem. More than two thirds of people receive no communication from their service provider before a bill lands whilst one in five opened a higher than expected bill with no warning. Just one in ten consumers told us they'd received a communication that enabled them to better plan their finances.

The billing blunders don't end there. 14% of consumers told us they'd recently received an inaccurate bill, and 7% continued to receive bills, or experience billing issues, even after they had terminated a contract.

"While direct debits can be more convenient for customers and help mitigate late payments for businesses, a transparent and open approach is definately needed."

Nigel Baker, managing director, Echo Managed Services

There are many things that can lead to customer concerns around a business' transparency and ethical stance. Overcharging, making credits difficult to recover, not putting customers on the cheapest available tariff, pushing unrealistic payment plans and not warning customers they've spent much more than usual, all have their part to play. It doesn't take much to erode customer trust, and once gone, it can be difficult to get back.

In fact, one in seven customers told us they'd definitely switch supplier if they encountered billing issues, and were not prepared to give a business a second chance.

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