Stop Jargon

Let’s all agree that NO JARGON is a good thing. Customers sure do.

Back to basics post #3 …

If you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ve seen me put up this quote from Harry Potter: “Words are our most inexhaustible form of magic”

I figured out really early on that clear communication is a key driver of customer experience. When you journey map, or future state map, or design processes, so often you find all these fail points.

What I’ve learned in health care is that many of those fail points are driven by complex language.

We can kid ourselves and talk about how complex this industry is and blame it all on that.

But the reality is, we’ve created a really complex language around this industry — and frankly, I’m not sure I can find a positive reason to explain why we’ve done that.

Here are a few of the reasons I’ve heard from consumers — the people we’re all supposed to be serving:

  • It ensures that no one understands how to use their benefits, saving the insurers and employers money.
  • They purposefully try to confuse us so that we just give up.
  • It is a way for people to make themselves feel superior to me.

We’ve written about our focus on language in Words Matter. I’ve been interviewed by newspapers about the language simplification programs I’ve built hundreds of times. I’ve been on stages talking about this problem in health care. Since the early 2000s!!

And yet we’re still struggling with the language issue in the health care industry 15-plus years on.

It’s hard to surprise and delight your customers when they could swear you’re being mean to them on purpose.

So we’ve decided to package what we do here at Chief Customer and make it available to you. We’ve created our very own “No jargon” list for health care. And you can buy it.

It is super helpful. We’ve taken our learnings from years of *literally* doing this work and compiled it into a list. This list has made it through compliance programs and legal review at health care entities around the U.S.A., and even abroad.

And it’s not just a “here are the words you shouldn’t use” list. It even includes suggestions for replacement words, definitions, and examples you can use to hold meaningful conversations with your very own legal and compliance departments.  ☺

We’ve also pulled together updated learnings and guidelines for how to write more clearly for health care consumers. Those are available, too.

These tools are amazing. We’ve taken what we’ve done and learned over the last 15 years of simplifying health care communications and dropped it into a quick, shiny, easy-to-use package for you.

Now, I’m not saying that you can just buy this and the rest is easy. Poof! You’ve transformed your health care company into one that is easy to understand! It’s a first step.

There are so many more steps to becoming understandable. You must:

  1. Rewrite all of your materials — on every channel.
  2. Retrain your customer service folks on how to speak and write.
  3. Actually create a movement around plain language — because this isn’t just for the peeps in marketing and customer service jobs.
  4. Train everyone who creates content for your customers on how you want them to talk.
  5. Expand and customize our list — because I bet you have your own very special in-house jargon.

And, you don’t have to do this all alone. We’re available to do all of those things with you. We love to help companies to become plain language-driven. After all, if your customers can’t understand you, delighting them won’t help.

Ready to start translating your jargon for your customers?  Drop me an email — ingrid@chiefcustomer.com— and I’ll give you all the details.

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