Change your words. Change your world.

Exactly What to Say to Make Written Documents Clearer

Have you ever seen a consumer document that wasn’t clear?  Maybe you were asked to sign one without fully understanding it.  Many documents used by businesses lack clarity and create confusion.  The measurement for great service may be customer satisfaction with past performance.  Conscious choices in document drafting can drive better results—customers that talk about continuing trusted business relationships built on clear and consistent communication.

Customers want to develop trusted relationships with businesses based on clear and consistent expectations.  Overcoming common obstacles in critical conversations creates opportunities to increase trust and minimize conflict in these relationships.  This holds true with both spoken and written communication.

Customer documents are often overlooked as common areas for improvement.  Word choices, as well as format, can either increase or decrease the customer experience.  Document design can be a missed opportunity to communicate company values to customers: if you say you have “great customer service,” customers should see this in every business aspect including forms and policies.  Conflicts in messaging can be created, leaving customers confused.  The impact: a decrease in trust.  Complexity and ambiguity are present in our daily interactions.  It’s time to declutter confusion by providing the clarity and consistency customers need and want.

How can you make immediate changes for a positive customer impact?

Two things need to happen:

Checklist for better written communication:


Sort concepts and content, placing like items in groups.


Leave space in margins and between groups.


Label the sorted groups to easily locate them.


Choose style carefully using serif fonts (e.g. Times Roman) or sans-serif (e.g. Arial) for easier recognition of letters. Font size is also important.

Bold or Italics

Add emphasis with these tools.


Use with caution! Eyes are drawn to underlined words, indicating extra importance. Are they that important?


Never use; consider this to be “screaming” at customers.

Short sentences

Eliminate run-on sentences to prevent unintended interpretations and unexpected results.

The Ws

Cover the “who, what, when, where, and why,” as applicable.

Clear and consistent communication builds trust for long lasting customer relationships.  Well-drafted documents increase trust.  Customers continue relationships for future business needs with trusted businesses.  Mere satisfaction of previous service leaves opportunities behind.  When trusted relationships develop, customers will communicate their experience to others.  

What documents can you revise today to increase trust and build better customer relationships?

Teri Quimby

Teri Quimby

Getting others to see things from a new perspective, helping people get on the same side and simplifying complexity are just some of Teri’s superpowers. A professional’s professional with experience working in some of the world’s most demanding sectors.

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