Person marking a checklist

Auto Pay Bills

I have a confession.

Until recently, I didn’t have a single bill set up to auto pay. I even paid utilities by check! I was a complete bill-pay luddite.

Paying bills by hand was reassuring and satisfying. After the task was done, I’d check off that task on my (paper) checklist.

When my partner found out about this habit, he was horrified. He spent an afternoon converting all my bills to auto pay, claiming it would make my life easier and less stressful.

With one notable exception: it has not.

After I get a bill, I start to stress. “Is the auto pay set up correctly?” “What if it doesn’t go through?” “What if my wallet gets taken off me on the T and I need to cancel my credit cards and forget my bill and oh-my-goodness.”

Well, except for what you could call my favorite bill (if you can call any bill a “favorite”): City of Somerville Tax.

Image of tax invoice with autopay notifcation

At the very top of the email, in a big, red box, this reassuring message appears:

“No action needed. Your account is currently enrolled in our auto pay program”

This message is an example of a great user experience.

  1. It reassures the reader that despite getting a tax bill, they don’t need to do anything.
  2. It gives clear details on when the bill will happen, without needing to dig around in an invoice.
  3. It instructs the user with actionable steps if they do need to change something.
  4. And it let’s the user know when and why they will be contacted again.

This isn’t a fancy message. There isn’t any animation, or anything but the barest visual design. But it is effective. And that makes this a great experience.

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