Hi, I am calling about the bill you sent me yesterday…

The reality of billing or why you just lost a customer.

Organizations that provide services send out bills. For the most part, people receive those bills and pay them. Some people do not pay bills, but this isn’t about people that willfully do things like that. This is about the bill you get in the mail.

First off, as someone that has been in the service industry for a long time, there are some things I know about customer service. I know, that when I am working with a customer, I always make sure they understand the concept of the bill that is coming. I always take the time to explain hours, charges and so on. Why? It is the right thing to do.

When you get a bill you are expecting, and the explanation is well, at best vague, and the bill is for a lot more than you were expecting what do you do? I know the first thought I have is that it is a mistake. So I call the company, doctor or organization that sent the bill.

That by the way usually doesn’t work. So I learned a valuable lesson. Send a letter. Letters force the company, doctor or agency to respond to you directly. You don’t get sent to a generic web site where you search for an hour looking for the codes. By the way, if, it wasn’t easy to send a user a specific address with accurate information I wouldn’t care. But it takes less time than answering my letter does. I can send you an email with a code. When you enter that code in the web site (after creating an account with a secure password) I can provide you with all the information you need. But nobody does that, they just blindly send out bills.

In the best sense of customer service, I find it funny that no one does that. I know for example that there are any number of reasons why not. The foremost is that no one has thought through the impact of the bill and the utter lack of information that bill contains.

Now all of this is so easily fixed it is sad.

1. I send you a code, specific to you.

2. You then are taken to a website and log in (securely) your bill is there. You can then click on the bill and the website will explain each part of the bill to you.

This isn’t the computational excess that the computers of NASA had to do in the 1960’s (based on the movie Hidden Figures, they did some amazing math by hand!). I get that bills haven’t changed in a long time. I truly understand the reality of bills. I work very hard to reduce the number of bills coming into my home each month. The more bills I get rid of, the less time I spend figuring bills out.

But, some responsibility lies with the organization sending the bill in the first place. The technology above really isn’t hard to send out, setup or even deliver. For those customer’s that don’t have computers, you can provide them with more detailed billing information. Frankly, the reality of billing is the lack of information forces me not to pay right away, look at the bill and evaluate if I am going to pay the full amount of some portion and send along a letter asking the billing organization what is going on.

Look I am someone that knows it isn’t that hard to set up an information system to help your customers through the billing process. I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the number of customer service people that could build such a system is enormous. I know that I have stopped going to various doctors over the years because of billing issues. You send me a bill that I can see is clearly wrong, or worse one that needs to be resubmitted to my insurance, and you don’t automatically do it? That means you just lost a customer. If you have the tech and you choose to not use it, shame on you!

How much is one customer worth?