Are literacy problems affecting your customer satisfaction?
A gap between the poor literacy skills of some of your customers and your bank's literacy demands may mean you are not communicating with all customers well enough to meet your objectives. this literacy checklist will help you systematically assess how user-friendly your bank really is.
Do many of your customers have significant problems with reading, writing, and arithmetic? The answer is probably "yes". If your clientele is representative of the general population, then 38% of your clients have significant reading problems. They are classified as functionally illiterate. Some cannot read (7%), others can read only common words (9%) and some can read only if the materials are simple and clearly laid out (22%).
However, even more of your clientele may have literacy problems if you serve certain groups. Some groups who have documented literacy difficulties include:
What can Your Bank Do?
Conduct the literacy check list for banks and make whatever changes you can.
This is a systematic, in-house assessment of how user-friendly your bank is. The check list deals with four areas.
The self-evaluation and reflection involved in conducting the check list should sensitize you to the literacy needs of many of your customers. Conducting this check list is really worthwhile if you make the changes necessary to close gaps discovered between customers' literacy skills and the literacy demands of the bank. Potential customers may avoid using your services because of the wall of words. You can take down that wall by using plain language when using printed material. You can avoid printed material by looking for alternative ways of communicating. you can recognize the problems of consumers who are functionally illiterate and thereby make your bank more accessible to all of society. If you make the changes, you will serve your customers better and operate more efficiently.
Taking the time and energy to conduct the check list is an investment in meeting your customer's needs.
Do your customers have literacy problems?
In a sense, illiteracy is invisible. You cannot usually tell from looking at people whether they read poorly or well. Adults with low literacy skills also develop many ways of hiding the signs of reading, writing or arithmetic problems. Consequently, it is difficult to tell if a client has a literacy problem. However, there are some clues that might help.
Consider whether the person:
Some of your customers with difficulties in reading and numbers may ask for help to improve these skills. You could refer them to agencies listed under "LEARN" in the Yellow Pages tmof your local telephone book.
Further Information - Renseignements additionnelles
Baldwin, Ruth. Clear Writing and Literacy, 1990. Available from the Ontario Literacy Coalition, Suite 1003, 365 Bloor St. East, Toronto Ontario M4W 3L4, Tel. (416) 963-5787, Fax (416) 961-8138.
Banking for Adult New Readers a student guide and Adult Literacy Project: Safer than a Sock (Video). Available from the Alberta educational Communications Corporation, 3720-76 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta T6B 2N9, Tel. (403) 440-7777, Fax (403) 440-8899.
J'ai écris simplement. Guide d'application des techniques écriture simple. Disponible à F.C.A.F., 235, chemin Montrèal, Vanier (Ontario) K1L 6C7 Tel. (613) 749-5333.
John Howard Society of Canada. Taking Down the Wall of words, Part 1 and Part 11. Available from the John Howard Society of Canada, 404, 383 Parkdale Ave., Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4R4, Tel. (613) 761-7678. Aussi disponible en français sous le titre «Faire tomber la barrière de l'écrit»
Jones, Stan. Reading, But Not Reading well - Reading Skills at Level Three. 1993. Available from National Literacy Secretariat, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1K5.
L'écriture simple. Disponible à F.C.A.F., 235, chemin Montrèal, Vanier (Ontario) K1L 6C7 Tel. (613) 749-5333.
Les Pages Jaunesmc - cherchez sous le mot «APPRENDRE»
Multiculturalism and Citizenship. Plain Language Clear and Simple. Ottawa, 1991. Available from Canada Communications Group - Publishing, Ottawa, Ontario. K1A 0S9. Aussi disponible en français sous le titre «Pour un style clair et simple»