PSEG Long Island this summer is tackling two ratepayer complaints by redesigning, simplifying and enhancing paper electric bills and its interactive user-account website.
After months of focus groups, consulting and testing, the new bills, set to mail sometime this summer, will be slightly larger than current bills, but provide more useful information in a less-cluttered manner, the company said.
For starters, the new bills will prominently display the amount due in a large orange box on the top right corner of both sides of the bill, along with the due date. The PSEG corporate color, orange, appears throughout the bill. Current bills are primarily black and white.
A bar chart showing customers’ average daily use over the past 13 months moves to the front page of the bill. New to the bar chart is a list of average temperatures for each month, giving customers a sense of how the weather may have affected their usage.
The front page also more prominently lists contact phone numbers, tells when the next meter-reading date is scheduled to take place, and has a separate message center for the latest information from the utility, including changes to the billing rate.
The back page of the bill breaks down the percentage amount of each area of cost and how it affects the bill: 48 percent for delivery and system charges, 44 percent for power supply and 8 percent for taxes and other charges.
Users will now detach the bottom portion of the bill to send in payments, compared with current bills, which require lopping off the top half.
Dan Eichhorn, vice president of customer services, said the years of work put into the new bills involved analysis of the bills of seven other utilities, JD Power information about what works best, focus groups and online surveys, and lots of internal honing. The bills were developed in conjunction with PSE&G, the company’s New Jersey sister, which also is introducing new bills.
Eichhorn said making the new bills less cluttered and clearer was a driving force in the design. “A big factor was having some white space” on the new bills, he said. “Too much information can be too confusing.”
The new bills will be accompanied by considerably easier methods for payment. A new MyAccount page on the PSEG website has streamlined all online customer transactions to three steps or less. That includes paying bills, reporting outages and even setting up a new account, which in the former version involved seven or eight steps, Eichhorn said.
Customers will be able to send a photo of their meter to avoid an estimated reading (they can also call in meter reads).
Business customers with multiple accounts will be able to access all of them with a single logon, and pay amounts due in a single transaction.
The new My Account page will automatically adjust to a user’s screen size, whether laptop, tablet or mobile device. At least for now, PSEG isn’t creating a separate app for iPhone users for its MyAccount page, but Eichhorn said that was possible in the future.
Customers will have access to 24 months of past bills and will be able to download via secure PDFs up to 13 bills at one time. There’s also a page to help customers lower their energy use and their bills.