Thursday, August 13, 2009

poor information design CAN hurt companies

I’m back from my vacation to Colorado.

One of my biggest concerns, I’ve touched on this previously, is the lack of understanding within an organization of the negative reaction to poor information design.

A survey of people filling out forms was done a few years ago by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). They found out that when people had trouble with the form, didn’t understand it or found it too difficult, not only did they stop filling out the form, but 58% of the people stopped using the products or services of the company that generated the form.

This survey shows that organizations don’t understand the power of good information design. They lose customers and business without even realizing it! Most people understand the easiest and cheapest way to increase business is through existing clients. Companies don’t think about the impact of their every day, business documents (reports, bills, statements, even form letters, etc.) on their customers. But as the AIR survey shows, many people walk away to a competitor.

Companies generate invoices simply because they have to in order to stay in business, i.e., they send them out to get paid. But what happens when they are received. People will review them and if they are easy to understand (what am I being charged for? Is the amount correct?), then they will be paid in the normal course of events. That is assuming the due date and remittance address, etc. are easy to find.

But what happens if the invoice is not understood? Or perhaps seems to be wrong? Think of a credit card bill where the purchase description is not what you thought you bought. Many times the name is a different company. First off, you are not happy, next you might contact the company – think customer service time here (a real cost to the company) and your time talking with someone. Depending on the call, the question might not be answered necessitating further contact and customer service time. While waiting, you put the invoice aside and pay others. This costs the company money since they will wait for payment. And the bottom line for the customer is – this is not a pleasant experience – will they take their business elsewhere?

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