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Enhancing Payment Processes: Insights from User Testing

SDS recently teamed up with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to review and improve their core payment processes online and via their automatic telephone payment (ATP) line. In this blog we share the insights from user testing these processes with local residents.

The User Testing Process

We invited 12 users to perform various payment tasks and observed their actions and feedback. They shared their thoughts on the process after each task.

All users were given pre-set scenarios along with the related correspondence from the council. They were also provided with ‘dummy’ contact details, account details and bank card details. Test payment webpages were set up to replicate the live payment webpages.

Payments for the following were user tested:

  • Council Tax
  • Penalty Charge Notices
  • Building Control Fees
  • Garden Waste Renewals
  • Garden Waste Subscription

Our goal was to identify any issues affecting the functionality and user experience of these systems.

45 user tests were carried out in total, with each payment process being tested 6 to 14 times by different users on different devices – mobile website, laptop website and mobile ATP call.

Key Findings

Overall, the user tests were positive, but a few areas needed improvement. Here’s what we found and our recommendations to enhance the user experience:

Consistent terminology: Ensure consistent terminology across all platforms – online, phone, and correspondence.

“The payment line says ‘press 1 to pay a parking fine’ but this isn’t a parking fine it is a PCN, so now what do I do?”

“I think it would be helpful if it was the exact same wording in the email and on the website. Because on the email it says ‘Building Notice Application’, on the website it says ‘Building Notice Fees.”

Alternative terminology: Rename terms like “shopping basket” and “checkout,” which users found off-putting, especially when paying fines.

“Don’t like the term basket and item, we are not shopping!”

“Create a basket! What’s that! That’s not good wording, that’s a joke. If I am paying a penalty notice I would be incensed to see shopping basket!”

Entering the Amount: Display the payment amount to the customer instead of letting them choose, as this can cause unease.

“I am confused here, it doesn’t say how much I should be paying, I could pay anything I guess”

Shopping Basket: Make the shopping basket a step in the payment process rather than a pop-up or icon that needs to be opened. If you do have an icon, ensure it meets WCAG 2.2 criteria for target size.

“Oh it said ‘add to basket’ on the last screen, but now I am back here. I thought it would take me straight to the basket.”

“I didn’t see the little basket up there before in all this blurb! It’s so small.”

Card Details: Make entering card numbers easier by setting up the card number field in blocks of four digits.

“Please could you put a space in-between card numbers, break them down. Would be much better, quite hard all in one long line to get it right”.

Address Entry: Improve the postcode finder to make results clearer and more obvious. Implement autofill options and clarify that manual entry is possible.

“I found the address thing very confusing. You don’t know to click that. Says’ please select’ but not clear that you have to click on it”.

Confirmation Screen: Always display a transaction confirmation screen online and a clear “Thank you, you can hang up now” message at the end of phone calls.

“Ohh it has gone back to start, no confirmation, very confusing, could end up paying twice if you think it hasn’t worked”.

“Do I just hang up? I guess so? Would be nice if they said Goodbye or something.”

Enhancing the user experience

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are now address these issues to improve the user experience when making payments to the council.

Insights from user testing have once again proven invaluable in pinpointing specific areas for improvement, ensuring that our systems are user-friendly and efficient.

If you would like to find out more about this project or would like to know if user testing could help you to create a smoother and more satisfying experience for your customers, please get in touch.