A change management project can only truly succeed if everyone in an organisation is involved. You may be tempted to only train staff that deal directly with customer communications. But a change project is unlikely to succeed this way.
Setting the scene for success
Dutch plain language consultancy Loo van Eck has been working on plain language change projects in the Netherlands for more than three decades. Chief executive Martijn Jacobs says in Rewrite: How to overcome daily sabotage of your brand and profit that in this time his company have learned by trial and error how best to accomplish improved customer communications.
‘This challenging task [of improving customer communications] includes many elements: behavior, competencies, procedures, content, and legal issues,’ Martijn says. ‘And we’ve discovered that there are two preconditions that are indispensible to success.’
Those preconditions are:
- to be patient and think long-term
- everybody needs to participate.
Getting everyone involved
One of Loo van Eck’s more recent major projects was a plain language change for international insurance firm Aegon. Although not every employee at Aegon communicated with customers, they were all required to participate in the change project. The reason? Clear communication is about so much more than learning new skills.
‘It’s about a mental shift,’ says Martijn. ‘Writing in plain language requires another way of thinking — one with more focus, more empathy, and with less emphasis on products. The customer may be internal or external, but the goal it to serve them well by stepping into their shoes.’
Such a change deeply affects the culture of an organisation in a very positive way. According to Martijn, every process across the whole organisation works better when every person is involved, ‘even if they never put pen to paper’.