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Bills not getting any easier to understand

From the Knowledge Centre

​Despite up to a third of people stating that clarity is the number one billing improvement businesses need to work on, and 24% saying they have struggled with bill complexity in the past, for most consumers in the UK, bills aren’t getting any clearer or easier to understand. This is confusing customers and wasting an important customer touch point....


Based on a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 UK households, recent research we undertook found that as many as 70% of consumers feel bills have stayed the same or actually become harder to understand, while only 3 in 10 feel they are getting simpler.

Struggling with billing jargon, consumers cited the most confusing terminology to be ‘tariff information label’, with 78% of those surveyed stating they didn’t understand what it meant. Other terms topping the baffling list were ‘chargeable value’ (72%), and ‘tariff comparison rate’ (72%).

By not simplifying bills or clarifying terminology, businesses are failing to take full advantage of a valuable customer touch point. Where businesses adopt good practice, customers are appreciative. Our research unveiled that up to a quarter of people said a bill had helped them save money, while a further one in five said a bill had provided useful information about a new product or service.

Furthermore, previous research, conducted by us here at Echo, has found that unclear bills can lead to debt issues – with over a third (36%) of late or non-payments occurring as a result of billing issues such as inaccurate bills, bills customers couldn’t understand and bill shock.

While it is disappointing that the majority of consumers feel that they are not seeing any improvement in the clarity of their bills, these findings should also be viewed as an opportunity for businesses. Those companies willing to understand and empathise with customers by simplifying bills, providing greater transparency, ensuring the lines of communication with customers remain open, and adding value, will be able to bolster loyalty and improve the company-customer relationship.

“Businesses need to act and adapt in order to improve billing experiences for customers, whilst of course keeping in mind that every customer is an individual, so will have different needs, preferences, and extents to which they’d prefer their bill simplified. Companies should not only look to provide more bill clarity, but also team this with useful online resources and a knowledgable customer contact team to ensure customers are fully supported to a degree which suits them."

Nigel Baker, managing director, Echo Managed Services

Through better and more transparent communication, companies will lessen the likelihood of both bill shock and protest debt, enhance the overall billing experience, and ultimately win the favour of their customers.

Suggested Further Reading

Knowledge Centre: Research

The Secrets of Better Billing

Knowledge Centre: Research

Counting the cost of debt recovery

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