I just read an interesting quote from the new US Budget: “The administration proposes to restore balance to the tax code by providing tax cuts to working families, returning to the pre-2001 ordinary income tax rates for families making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year, closing loopholes, and eliminating subsidies to special interests.”
That is 46 words. It has a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 23.6* . You need a lot of education for that, more than most of the people affected have, for example. More than language translation software can handle.
If you ever wondered how they figure out Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, there is a formula: The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = (.39 x average sentence length) + (11.8 x average syllables/word) – 15.59.
In the case of that sentence, it means that if you are in the US workforce and have been working in a profession for over 20 years hoping to get ahead, like put your children through college, you not only will get no scholarships or tax breaks, but you will also work from 1 January through a part of July for the US State and Federal Government. But hey, you’re rich! (come on – have a sense of humour about it, it’s ok. Rock stars used to leave England to enjoy US tax rates. Back when they had their own hair.)
Everything from automobile leasing to mobile phone contracts to medical coverage, electronic gadget warranties, travel regulations, insurance and mortgages carry impenetrable clauses and details and catches that are taking the fun out of the consumer experience. And you wonder why customer service is so expensive and churn rates so high?
Bring the fun back: drop the turbid prose in your Ts&Cs, and obscure processes and unreachable help! Be like TiVo support!! Be like Zappos or Amazon or SouthWest Airlines or the Container Store or Progressive Insurance: commited to the customer, hard working, and listening listening listening to how they can make it better. Their sentences are short and policies clear and reasons for things exposed for debate!!!
I’m with Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”
Learn that you are commited to your ‘shareholders’ – however you define that – and customer excellence is the path to profit (and fun).