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Half of water customers don’t understand their bill

Lady Confused Bills

Almost 13.5 million households struggle to understand billing jargon.

As many as 13.5 million UK households are in the dark about their water bill, as they struggle to understand its contents, according to new research.

49% of water customers said they do not understand their bill or find it confusing in some way. The figures are highlighted in The Secrets of Better Billing, a study commissioned by utility billing software business Echo Managed Services, creator of Aptumo.

We surveyed 1,000 UK households and found that one in seven (14%) billpayers believe that their supplier uses confusing jargon in their bills and communication with customers.

Concerningly for water companies, just 39% of customers think their supplier is making an effort to connect with them, in a clear and simple way. This could negatively affect brand perception, with some customers potentially feeling alienated by their supplier.

However, the research found that some water suppliers have boosted bill clarity, as they strive for greater customer centricity. Figures show that 17% of UK households found the language in certain providers’ bills easier to understand following the changes. This figure is in line with the improvements being made by energy providers, as 16% of customers are finding energy bills easier to understand.

A fifth (20%) have also stated that bills are becoming clearer in design, again in line with energy providers (20%).

“It’s apparent that water companies still need to do more to improve their billing communication processes and shouldn’t assume that customers know or understand common billing and sector terms. Simplifying language or offering clear definitions, and a glossary detailing what each term means can go some way to making life easier for UK households.”

Andy Mack, Software Services Director

Although one in ten (10%) households have seen their water provider refresh their bill’s design in the last year, more needs to be done as less than half (48%) actually read their bills thoroughly and 12% admitted to not even looking at them.

“Making changes to the way in which a bill looks will go some way in increasing the number of households that read and understand them. Clear-cut explanations and information on a well-designed and easy to navigate website or bill can help to improve the customer billing experience. Consideration should also be given to the inclusivity of bills, taking care not to disadvantage customers with specific needs. These findings highlight that simply refreshing bill design is not necessarily sufficient if water providers are going to move customer billing experiences from dissatisfaction and apathy to delight.”

Andy Mack, Software Services Director

About the author

Andy Mack

Software Services Director at Echo Managed Services

Andy Mack

Suggested Further Reading

Knowledge Centre: Research

The Secrets of Better Billing 2019

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