Which Billing Do Customers Prefer?— The Results of an Attitude Survey
by KENNARD W. WEBSTER Partner, New York Office
Presented before the Controllers Congress of the National Retail Merchants Association, Minneapolis—May 1966
THIS PAPER reports on an attitude survey recently undertaken by the
firm of Haskins & Sells with the co-operation of several retail stores throughout the country. The survey asked the customer to express preferences
between two billing methods commonly installed on electronic computer equipment, which are known colloquially in the trade as "country club" and "descriptive" billing. The monthly information furnished
the customer differs, one method to another, and is illustrated in Exhibits B and C, pages 383 and 384, respectively.
The idea for the survey arose during the course of a computer feasibility
study for a department store chain. It was obvious, from the standpoint of using electronic data processing equipment, that there were several advantages in using descriptive billing. Since descriptive billing was a departure from present practice, the question naturally arose, How would the customers react to descriptive billing?
We didn't know the answer to the question, so we decided the most straightforward approach was to ask the customer directly. Before going any further, however, we discussed the subject with Sam Flanel at NRMA headquarters, hoping that he was aware of some available information on customer preference. He was not, but he brought up the logical question of whether the opinions in one part of the country would necessarily be valid somewhere else. The more the subject was discussed, the more desirable it appeared to be to make a survey, but while we were doing it, to extend the project to several sections of the country to see if there were geographical differences. So this is what we did, and we are now reporting the results to you.
THE SURVEY MATERIAL
To start the project, we developed a set of survey material to be mailed to department or specialty store customers, requesting a mailed response. This survey set is illustrated in Exhibits A through D (pages 382 to 385 inclusive); and it consisted of:
• An example of country club billing
• An example of descriptive billing