Among the many catalogs in my mailbox the other day was a plain mailer from my credit card issuer Chase that stated, "Important information enclosed: changes to your account."
That got my attention, especially since my assumption (unfair as it may be) was that the news would be bad.
But when I opened the mailer, I was pleasantly surprised, not because Chase was telling me something wonderful (the news was neutral: small changes to key policies) but because of how simple and clear the communication was.
I don't care whether Chase did the right thing because the government requires it or because the company believes in simplicity; it's the end result that matters.
Here are the 5 things the mailer does well:
- Plain language. No complicated terms, no acronyms, no voice of doom--the Chase mailer is written in an easy-to-understand style. For example: "We are making changes to your Cardmember Agreement." And: "As long as you make your payment by the date and time payments are due, we will credit your payment on the same day it is received."
- Everything is explained. Bet you don't really know what a "return payment fee" is. No worries--Chase provides a definition: "We may charge this fee if the payment you offered us is not honored, is returned unpaid, or cannot be processed." Got it.
- A comparison of what the terms used to be and what will change. Chase includes a table with the following headings: What's changing, Current, Revised and Key information. So you can see at a glance what you had before (who remembers what the balance transfers fee used to be?) and what will be different. It's such an easy device, but so effective.
- No glitz. The mailer is almost austere in its design: lots of white space, black and blue ink and, except for the Chase logo, no images. I'm glad my credit card company's not spending my money on sophisticated design. Just give me information.
- An invitation to call. "If you have questions or want to reject the change(s), please call us at 1-800-etc. We're here to help anytime." We'll ignore the fact that "rejecting the change(s)" is not really an option--it means you close your account--but the intention is good. The mailer provides information, but if you don't understand, there's a number to call and, presumably, a person you can talk to.
Change is often difficult. But communication should be simple.