We simplify the language of communication

For a year now, we have been running the „Clear Thing” project at Santander Bank Polska under which we simplify the language of our communication with customers. By applying the principles of simple language, documents and offers become more legible and transparent.

For over a year we have been systematically introducing the principles of simple language in order to create documents that are easier to understand. The initiative involves language consultants who have undergone many days of training with professional language experts. We also train employees in the principles of simple language.

Amidst the ongoing flood of information, it is important to communicate simply and clearly. The language of institutional communication hardly ever meets these requirements, so we are changing it to respond to the current needs of our customers. It is a long-term project under which we introduce new, simplified documents in stages. We invited the creator of the Polish standard of simple language, a linguist, Tomasz Piekot, to cooperate with us. He is guiding us through this linguistic transformation by organizing, among others, trainings, webinars and workshops

Mariola Wytrykus

coordinator of the "Clear Thing" project at Santander Bank Polska

The principles of simple language will be implemented in all segments and documents addressed to customers. In the first place, the changes will cover correspondence sent to retail clients (letters, complaints). Work on changes to the regulations is in progress. The Regulations of the Electronic Communication Channel is the first document converted into a simple language, with a modern layout and infographics, but without bank jargon.

The transition to simple language is a big change. We create texts based on analyses, for instance of eye tracking, so that they are as easy to comprehend as possible. We want our clients to see what we are writing to them about after a fleeting glance at the document. We use bullet points, tables and diagrams. But most of all, we have abandoned the official language, replacing it with a friendly message with shorter sentences

Kamila Dec

a simple language trainer at Santander Bank Polska

Last year we conducted a language audit of the retail segment. The audit covered almost 2 thousand documents addressed to both clients and employees – offers and after-sales letters, complaint responses, social media announcements, contracts and regulations, our website, as well as internal communication. In the audit we used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Fourteen language  parameters were examined, including the popular FOG readability index*. We also conducted a similar audit for the corporate segment, and the results of both showed that there is room for further simplification of the language used in the bank.

We are constantly organizing trainings to teach new principles of communication in the spirit of using simple language. In the nearest future, we are launching an e-learning course available for all employees. On a daily basis, our employees can refer to the language guide.