Style guide

Do your customer communications use a consistent style and tone of voice?

Do they always use correct English?

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An in-house style guide can help to ensure that everyone who writes to customers communicates in a similar way, using a consistent tone, style and layout. It’s like a personal dictionary for your organisation.

If your customers receive letters that are over-formal or full of complex terms and gobbledygook, they can feel confused and alienated. Or if customers receive emails that are over-friendly or colloquial – and contain errors of grammar or punctuation – they might feel you’re unprofessional.

A tailor-made style guide can solve these problems. It has other benefits too. It can:

    • Help you to differentiate your organisation from competitors
    • Increase customer satisfaction and improve your corporate image, as plain English is viewed as more transparent, honest and direct
    • Reinforce your organisation’s voice – and support your brand identity
    • Help you to comply with the Financial Regulator’s guidelines on clear writing
    • Empower employees to write clearly, concisely and professionally
    • Reduce the number of consumer complaints and referrals to regulators
    • Help new staff to understand best practice within your organisation

Is there an alternative to a style guide?
Yes. If you think a style guide might be too detailed, we can create a quick guide. For instance, this could be a one-page guide to your writing style and tone of voice or a laminated quick guide to your punctuation style.

We have recently created short writing guides for several insurance companies and a legal firm.

What goes into a style guide?
It depends on what you need. We take a look at your existing customer communications and then make recommendations.

Together, we decide what your in-house guide should include, for maximum benefit to staff and customers. Do you need one for the whole organisation, for one project or for one type of templated letters? Take a look at some examples.

Can you design a training programme to show staff how to use plain English and the guide?
Yes. It’s a good idea to launch the project with a short training course to build buy-in and understanding.

How much does it cost?
It depends on what type of guide you need and how much work is involved. After you talk to us about your objectives etc, we can give you a quote.

Can you update an existing style guide?
Yes. In fact, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your guide every five years or so, to ensure it continues to reflect your brand values and your evolving customer relationships.