interactions live 2021

Using Plain Language & Personalization in the Contact Center for Better CX

It’s plain and simple, using plain language in customer interactions is good business for your contact center.

When you use plain language across the customer journey, you’re offering better customer service. You’re achieving higher first-call resolution (FCR) rates. You’re lowering call volume. This all leads to cost savings in your contact center.

Federal agencies are required by law to use plain language. Many private sector businesses are required to use plain language in some form to maintain compliance.

But what exactly is plain language?

It’s defined as communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it.

This communication makes it easy for your audience to find and use the content you’re providing, because it’s:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Well-organized

Language is not considered plain when it’s:

  • Indirect
  • Jargon-heavy
  • Assumes insider knowledge

The lack of clear communication in the contact center can result in significant costs to a business over time. Call volume increases when customers struggle to understand the information you provide. The business may have to spend more resources writing and mailing explanatory letters as a result. In worse cases, poor communication with customers could even lead to litigation.

Conversely, contact centers can establish themselves as cost savers vs. cost sources by employing plain language tactics. When clear communication is used, customers comply with requirements more quickly. They follow instructions more accurately. Your business no longer needs to devote as many agents or resources to resolving complex customer issues or critical escalations.  

A 2018 Harvard Business Review article points out that plain language has been slow to catch on in the business world. The article makes a case for why more plain language is needed, demonstrating its benefits in several real-world case studies. For example, when the Cleveland Clinic simplified its billing statements in 2008, it was able to recover an additional $1 million a month. When Sabre Travel introduced plain language guidelines to help customers install flight information system, annual calls to Sabre’s help desk dropped 70%, resulting in savings of more than $2.4 million.

Using plain language does not remove the personal element of customer interactions. Finding the right balance between clear communication and personalization is key. Here are a few steps you can take to communicate clearly and deliver personalized service:

  • Incorporate plain language in your IVR system using a flexible scripting tool.

This will improve the self-service experience for customers. It will also promote customers’ future use of self-service options and help you keep costs down.

  • Integrate CRM in your contact center platform for 360-degree customer insight.

With access to a customer’s unique account information, call history, and needs before an interaction even takes place, you can easily personalize engagement.

  • Train agents to use clear, direct language in customer interactions.

Discuss messaging, context, tone, style, delivery—and how proper use may differ across channels.

Whether communicating more clearly in your IVR scripts or across digital channels, your contact center can always take steps to promote the use of plain language and personalization.

To learn more about improving the customer experience, check out our webinar on Digital-First Customer Service .