Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Billing information and customer support in simple language

PIKSL, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a social enterprise that uses the competences of people with and without disabilities to develop products and services for everyone. One of its services helps E.ON, a German utility company based in Essen, to better communicate with all of its customers. E.ON was looking for a barrier free, intuitive service that can offer billing information in simple language and that can motivate these customers to interact with the company. In 2016 approximately 300 people with intellectual disabilities used this service during the pilot phase.

“We felt like partners on the same level, because our opinion was valued.”

Christoph WichePIKSL consultant with a disability
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Billing information and customer support in simple language
Organisation:PIKSL
Country
of Implementation
Germany

FACTS & FIGURES

  • In 2016 approximately 300 people with intellectual disabilities benefitted from the service during the pilot Phase
  • 90 per cent of those have been content with the Service
  • Energy shut downs have been decreased by 93 per cent since the introduction of the service.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Many people with and without disabilities have difficulty understanding their utility invoices, resulting in miscommunication, payment delays, and even the suspension of utility services.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The E.ON payment services helpline has been established to support customers who have difficulty with paying their bills and to offer these customers help in a way that is tailored to their needs and easy to understand. As a first step, an online portal was developed. Then printed media was created that gives advice to customers to avoid Different people given advices on how to understand the different cases.payment difficulties and offers help in case their utility services have been shut off. In addition, these flyers offer information about energy saving measures.
To make the website accessible and the printed material understandable for people with intellectual disabilities, E.ON hired PIKSL. PIKSL employs people with intellectual disabilities as consultants who understand the problems involved and who act as experts in improving accessibility. In co-working session with E.ON, the payment flyers and the payment support Internet page have been made accessible for people with intellectual disabilities by translating the text into clear language and an easily understandable layout. Currently, all online and printed materials are available in several languages.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

PIKSL does not see any immediate growth opportunity with E.ON, but the translation of information into easy to understand language is in high demand in Germany and abroad. Therefore, there is a high potential that this practice will be replicated.
PIKSL is currently preparing to scale-up all its activities by findings partners who would like to open a PIKSL outlet of their own. Each new PIKSL outlet will offer the same products and services, including “inclusive test and learn workshops.” PIKSL has received a large donation from the SKala Initiative and is currently looking to recruit more talented people – both with and without disabilities. The goal is to open at least five new outlets throughout Germany over the next three years. The practice is 100 per cent self-financed through the consulting fees that are billed to the various clients.
Different people given different case studies to solve.
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