January 7, 2021

The 2020 KUBRA Utility Bill Design Report Helps Utilities Design Customer-Centric Bills

Utilities tackle change their bill design for a number of reasons, including improving customer experience, rebranding, moving to a new print process or vendor, or just a refresh to stay current. Whatever the reason, it’s a big undertaking. Now, it’s easy to make assumptions about what customers want to see on their bill and where they want to see it, but it’s not always accurate. It’s this disconnect that prompted KUBRA to conduct a consumer survey to answer the following questions:

    • How satisfied are customers with bills
    • The information they most want to see on bills 
    • How do they prefer to receive and review them
    • How well do they understand them

If you really want to know what your customers are looking for when it comes to their utility bills, this report will give you much needed insights into the minds of consumers.

Survey Details

KUBRA conducted a nationwide survey to research current consumer bill design preferences and attitudes. The survey received over 1,000 responses. Respondents had to be living in the United States, over the age of 18, and head of their household in relation to the payment of utility (gas, electric, water) bills. Here are some of the key takeaways for utilities.

There Is Room for Improvement When it Comes to Bill Satisfaction

The good news is that utilities aren’t totally dropping the ball when it comes to their bills. 67% of consumers said they were at least somewhat satisfied with their bills, but utilities must understand that somewhat satisfied just doesn’t cut it for some consumers. As many of you may have guessed, topping the list of what customers expect is an easy to understand bill and contributing most to poor experiences is unexpectedly high bills and billing errors. While none of you are purposely sending out difficult to understand bills with lots of errors, it’s important to be aware of the things that contribute most to positive and negative customer experiences so you can fix them. For instance, you should try to do what you can to make customers aware of how much to expect their bill to be before it arrives in their mailbox by sending weekly alerts (email, text, etc.) about payment estimates.

Most Consumers Don’t Understand How Their Bills Are Calculated

There’s definitely work to be done when it comes to how well consumers understand the charges on their bills. Just 33% of consumers understand how their bills are calculated. This directly impacts customer satisfaction because we now know that most customers are looking for an easy to understand bill. When customers have questions, and we should assume many do if only one third understand how their bill is calculated, 61% indicated they would pick up the phone to get answers. The top answers they’re looking for are why is my bill unexpectedly high and what are these charges and fees? A great way to reduce call volume and give customers access to information any time of the day or night is to use AI-enabled chatbots. They can deal with routine questions which reduces service costs, speeds up response times, and frees up your agents for more complicated questions.

Including Key Information on Bills Can Help Alleviate Customer Confusion and Calls

Your customers want the amount due, due date, and usage information to be front and center on their bills because those are the details they find most valuable. Though you may feel it’s important to include all the Terms and Definitions on your bills, your customers don’t agree with you. In fact, it was this information that they selected as least valuable. And given that it can take up a lot of space on your bill, better to direct them to this information on your website instead. Additionally, consumers are very interested in knowing how they are using their electricity. Use visuals, like charts and graphs to clearly explain customer usage information and highlight changes in consumption to help them understand why their monthly bill was dramatically different from previous months. 

Make Informed Decisions When Redesigning Your Bills

The results of our 2020 Bill Design Survey provide valuable information to those who are working with KUBRA on a redesign project and for those who are going it alone. Download our white paper for more details and suggestions on how you can improve your bills and increase customer satisfaction.