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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Things to tell people who give you money.

My Saturday routine starts by paying bills.

Regardless of whether I pay online or send a check in the mail, the companies I give my money to are missing an opportunity to send an important message.

A bill is another customer touchpoint, but one with a unique opportunity to reinforce the value that the provider brings me on a monthly basis.

Because they represent a personal cash outflow, monthly bills are seen as necessary negatives. But because cost of the services I use is tangibly quantified, it is a great opportunity to also quantify the value I’m getting out of the experience.

Why don’t companies do this? Because they’re afraid I’ll begin to question the value I receive? Because communications dollars are spent on attraction of new customers rather than improving the experience for existing ones? Or just that the billing process isn’t within the purview of anyone responsible for reinforcing the customer experience.

There are some easy ways companies could be using the billing process to reinforce the value they’re providing me:

Tell me how you performed. If the cable / internet were up 100% of the time for the month, tell me. If it has now been 13 months since I’ve had a power outage, let me know.

Provide some comparative analytics. Power & gas companies have started to do this, but not nearly enough. Power companies should have owned the space that Microsoft Hohm now occupies in energy measurement and assessment. They could still benchmark me against the rest of my street / block, or against similar houses in my neighborhood. Tell me how I should feel about how much energy I’m using, and I’ll likely modify my behavior and start using less.

Remind me how much you’re there for me. If I made a customer service call, remind me of the usage and ask me to rate the outcome.

Reinforce my role as a customer. If something I did led to a higher cost than I might otherwise expect, reinforce the behavior you want out of me.

The monthly billing cycle is the necessary interaction by which your company makes its collective living. Use the encounter creatively and positively. You should be proud to talk about the value you provide, and equally proud to collect money for it.


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Jay said...

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