Design for customer experiences

The invoice is one of the most important communication channels for reaching customers. Daniel Chow, Strategy Director at True Friends Digitalbyrå and Tomas Nilzén, B2C Solution Designer Expert at PostNord Stralfors, explain how you should think in order to achieve the best possible impact.


Photo: Offset/ReeldealHD.

Say “digital invoice” and many companies still imagine an email invoice in PDF format that the customer scrolls up and down on their computer screen. When PostNord Stralfors B2C Solution Designer Tomas Nilzén talks about the opportunities of digital invoices, this is not what he’s thinking about. He works instead with dynamic communication, i.e. communication that can be adapted to both the channel and the recipient. With digital invoices in HTML documents, an invoice can be opened and shared in several different channels. 

“With dynamic HTML documents, the customer can choose to receive the invoice directly in his or her online bank, in a text message, as an email or a QR code,” says Tomas Nilzén.

 Tomas Nilzén,  B2C Solution Designer PostNord Stralfors.Let customers define the channel

In the past, all customers received information in the same way, for example in the form of a physical letter. Now customers want to decide for themselves, and PostNord Stralfors is breaking new ground. Nowadays consumers are used to choosing for themselves in which channel or channels they want to receive information. As a company, you have to meet these expectations – including when it comes to sending out invoices. This is possible with dynamic communication, in which end customers are given the opportunity in each interaction to control how they want to be contacted. 

By collecting data and using it smartly, you can also segment your mailings and be more accurate with personalised content, targeted special offers and chat functions directly via the invoice. One element of this is the design solution for digital invoices, which are being developed to become one of the most important instruments in building relationships with customers. 

The development of invoice design begins once the purpose of the communication and the customer data are in place. 

“Solution design is like building a house, it’s easy once you have a good drawing,” says Tomas Nilzén. 

The user experience means everything

In only a short time, the mobile phone has changed both expectations and behavioural patterns among customers. Companies have a lot to gain by keeping up with this development. The opening rate for text message invoices is, at 98 per cent, well above that for email. And most text message invoices are opened within four minutes.

Tomas Nilzén notes that there is a high level of interest in digital invoices in sectors such as banking, energy, telecommunications and insurance. The user experience is particularly important for these kinds of e-services in which the customer has the opportunity to go in and make changes to the services, or when they need to be able to look for answers to their questions. 

“Everyone who has a continuous relationship with the customer has an interest in making improvements,” says Tomas Nilzén.

This is because they are more inclined to retain loyalty than companies whose customers only make occasional purchases.

Analyse invoice in real time

At PostNord Stralfors, the Access Interactive web portal enables both administration and segmentation of the content, and the solution can be used to develop the invoice at the same time.

“Developing an invoice design that works as expected is important. With Access Interactive, we can measure and analyse in real time. We can also test different outcomes with the aid of A and B tests,” says Tomas Nilzén. 

“We can also use the web portal so see in which channel the customer chooses to open the invoice and whether customers can access the right information. The more functions are added, the more important it is that it still feels user-friendly and easy to navigate.” 

Sharing for greater understanding

During the winter, PostNord Stralfors and True Friends Digitalbyrå have been sharing knowledge in the area of invoice design and UX in order to learn from one another and to discuss how best to put the focus on the customer. The link to the transaction is of central importance, as is a broader understanding of the customer journey.

“It’s not about what we want to push onto the customer, but what the customer wants to have. Companies must understand this perspective,” says Daniel Chow, Strategy Director at True Friends Digitalbyrå.

Daniel Chow, Strategy Director at True Friends Digitalbyrå.Accelerating development

A good customer journey has to work before, during and after the purchase. When the customer is unable to go into a physical shop and receive personal attention, as a company you need to be prepared to compensate for this with agile customer care. Many e-commerce companies, such as Amazon, give refunds in the event of a complaint without the customer first having to return the product. 

The development of e-commerce is moving ahead quickly, thanks to the increase in base data. At the same time the costs of developing new services have fallen, and it is possible to try out new solutions on a sub-group of customers or just one segment of a product range. 

One relevant way of personalising the content when informing about the product is always to start with how the customer’s need arose. By looking at search and customer behaviour history, e-commerce operators can capture the context and match the need in a more adequate way than before. 

“There are more customers and companies have made so much progress on their journeys of digitalisation that there is a readiness to use new solutions and products,” says Daniel Chow. 

To avoid being left behind, he recommends that companies increase their business intelligence activities and keep an eye on new startups.