Case study - working with Industry Improvement

Industry Improvement is an area of the TIO that works with service providers to help them resolve issues and achieve best practice. Specifically, Industry Improvement looks at issues that affect a number or class of consumers, as opposed to individual matters. Industry Improvement achieves this through systemic interventions and other activities.

Confusing customer invoices

Recently, the TIO noticed a potentially systemic issue with a service provider’s invoices. By looking at complaint data, we found that a number of the service provider’s customers — and its own complaint handlers — were having difficulty understanding what charges and credits had been applied to a customer’s account. In a number of cases, it also appeared that the primary reason for the complaint was a misunderstanding of information on the invoice.

The Industry Improvement team raised the issue through an informal systemic investigation. From the outset, the TIO offered the service provider direct feedback about the bill from some of the service provider’s own customers and asked the provider to consider the feedback. The TIO also gave the service provider some advice on how the bill could be improved to achieve industry best practice.

The service provider took on board this feedback and improved its bills. It provided regular updates and invoice iterations to the TIO, to seek further feedback on the proposed changes. The service provider also invested heavily in customer focus groups to further test the readability of the invoice.

Where there was a mismatch between the feedback and the service provider’s requirements under taxation legislation, it took steps to reduce the confusion, but explained the reason why the changes couldn’t be made. This also enabled the TIO to brief its own staff about the reasons some items are included in bills and how to explain these to consumers that may complain about their invoices.

As a result, the service provider significantly revised its customer invoices. At a presentation to TIO staff about the new invoice, the service provider outlined the positive feedback it had received from usability tests and its customer focus groups. To further demonstrate its commitment to reducing consumer detriment, the service provider also took on board some further comments from the TIO.

The informal investigation saw the TIO give the service provider valuable information about its invoices, that we had heard from the provider’s own customers. Open, direct and solution focussed discussions allowed the TIO and service provider to work together to improve the bill. This, in turn, increased consumer understanding and reduced the number of complaints.

For further information

Please contact your account manager or the Industry Improvement manager James Harley at or on 03 8680 8526.