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Recent research by Forrester examined the impact that clear communications had on customer experience (CX) scores for organizations in a number of industries. It may come as no surprise that the results showed that making customer communications clearer and easier to read improved CX. What caught my attention was how dramatic the CX improvements were. In fact, Forrester concluded, "This outsized influence translates into a revenue impact that can be a game-changer for your bottom line."
Research like this strongly supports the business case for carefully reviewing the communications you send to your customers. Communications that use plain language and good information design principles ensure that your customers understand information the first time they read or hear it, avoiding the misunderstandings and errors that result in calls to the call center or, worse, customer churn. It is important to remember that no one technique defines plain language. Language that is plain to one set of readers may not be so for others. Rather, plain language is defined by answering this question: Is it is easy to read, understand, and use?
However, as a document professional, you know that eliminating legalese or jargon from all documents is easier said than done. For example, I know of one insurance organization that regularly uses about 2,000 letters, each with around 10 paragraphs, which add up to 20,000 paragraphs. Manually reviewing and rewriting 20,000 paragraphs would be a daunting and expensive task—and that correspondence is just one piece of the puzzle. Most likely, the organization also has legacy print streams as well as any number of additional PDFs, Word documents, or content in other composition systems with similar issues.
An Alternative to a Manual ApproachWhile a manual approach is a non-starter for many organizations due to the time and costs involved, it is not the only option. Customer communications assessment solutions are available today to help organizations understand the content in their inventory and identify an intelligent way to organize, re-use, and revise it so that it sends a clear message and supports a positive CX.
Performing this type of comprehensive assessment makes it possible to identify duplicate content that is spread across multiple communications. For example, there may be certain paragraphs from cloned content that are largely the same in 40 or 50 different letters, with the only difference being items like the name of the state or the time in which the recipient is given to respond. Through this identification process, the number of paragraphs that need to be rewritten and standardized might be reduced from 20,000 to 3,000, making the task much more manageable. Identifying what content your organization needs, what can be eliminated, and what needs to be rewritten to enhance clarity will go a long way toward improving consistency in communications as well as the organization's CX.
Great Communication Will Drive CXOrganizations that realize they are really in the "customer experience" business—which means how they communicate and deliver to the customer is almost more important than what they deliver—are winning new business. Revitalizing customer communications by replacing unnecessary jargon and unclear or inconsistent messages with clear and concise language is a project that is guaranteed to move the needle in the right CX direction.
Patrick Kehoe is Executive Vice President of Product Management for Messagepoint, Inc. Patrick has more than 25 years of experience delivering business solutions for document processing, customer communications, and content management. Prior to joining Messagepoint, he held the position of Worldwide Head of OpenText Exstream. For more information, visit www.messagepoint.com.