A Water Department in the northeastern United States sends out monthly billing statements informing their customers of water usage, payment adjustments, account balances, etc. Their billing statements, like many others, contain numerical values that are defined by a variety of categories. Bills are often the only communication link between a utility company and its customers. Making minor changes to the bill, such as adding comparative water consumption information in the form of a graph, can help both the customer and company by providing information that the customer wants and needs. Minor changes can also improve the design of a document making it appropriate for almost any customer, regardless of their technical sophistication, by increasing the document’s readability.
Faced with an increased number of calls to their call center from customers requesting a clearer explanation of their billing statement, this large metropolitan city realized they needed to present the information on their billing statements in a more visually pleasing and comprehensible manner. In addition, many customers preferred receiving an email statement instead of a paper statement. Email statements created the need for the call center to have the ability to view the exact bill received by the customer on their screen. With the use of Lytrod Software and the Xerox FreeFlow VI Suite, all of these challenges were met without alteration of the existing legacy data streams.
The image above shows the original bill on the left and the improved bill on the right. The use of color in the graph clearly indicates differences in current water usage from past usages, with bright colors indicating excessive use, allowing consumers to easily understand their monthly consumption and consider changes to decrease it.
Once the new billing statements were sent out to customers, the city’s Water Department saw a rapid decrease in customer service calls, resulting in cost savings for the call center. With the potential for decreased usage of water and a decrease in cost to the utility, the modernization of the billing statement was a success.