Posted: 2nd February 2024
MAKING COMMUNICATIONS CLEARER
Firms are under more scrutiny than ever to make sure their communications, and the channels in which they deliver them, are suitable for all customers.
With the new Consumer Duty rules setting higher standards of protection for the consumer, firms are obliged to ensure that customers:
- Receive timely and clear information they can understand.
- Can make good financial decisions.
- Receive important information that is easily accessible and not ‘buried in lengthy terms and conditions’
In the latest Financial Lives Survey results, the FCA confirmed that 4.3 million adults said they had received information from their provider that they could not understand, was not what was needed or was not timely.
Of these adults, 1.8 million said the information was not understandable, which has further implications for consumers and their finances. The top three impacts were:
Huntswood believes there are some critical elements that firms should be thinking about before implementing changes to their communications.
Adopting the “3 R’s” approach can help in reviewing and ultimately putting in place changes across a firm’s communications customer journey. The 3 R’s are:
- Is a document easily read across all channels?
- Can you view it well via phone, laptop, computer or in printed form?
- Can you see the whole page and do links work correctly?
- Reading (accessibility and understanding)
- Can customers request communications in a format that suits them, i.e. large font?
- Is the language used understood by the majority of customers? (the government recommend writing for a 9-year-old reading age)
- Is jargon being removed and replaced by everyday language?
- Are ‘nudges’ being used to control how customers read their documents?
- Does the information given in the communication fit with the wider messaging throughout the customer journey?
- Can customers respond to you in the format they received their communications?
- Are contact details clearly shown throughout documents?
- Can customers respond via online forms, rather than having to print out forms and posting them back?
The reviews should be book-ended by customer research. Reaching out to customers, before and after changes are made, to test and gather valuable feedback provides evidence that communications are understandable and supporting the delivery of good customer outcomes.
So, with the new Consumer Duty well underway, and communications very much at the forefront of that, there’s never been a more important time for firms to review their approach - ensuring all communications are effectively delivered, clear, fair and not misleading.