Live from AHIPcx: Words Matter

Words Matter: How to Leverage Design Thinking to Create Great Customer Experiences, by Michael Zagami

Of course words matter – we all agree on that. But which words matter? To whom?

Lately it feels like big data analytics, AI, they are exciting – but what about engagement strategies? No one seems to care. But that’s not right.

Design Thinking

Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test.

Today we’re focusing on Empathy and Define. Those build the strategy, that set you up for the execution.

Words have connotations – sometimes different connotations depending on timing. “Toxic” meant one thing in 1992, and another in 2018. Grandfather has great connotations… but Grandfathered meant nothing when it appeared in the ACA in 2010. So there was feedback like “what does my grandfather have to do with it?” If we had used design thinking and empathy to understand what words people knew, we might have alleviated that problem.

Preference can mean two things: the customer wants something, or the business wants something.

  • Customer wants a refill reminder via SMS
  • Business wants to tell you about a million different communications, notifications, reminders, etc. Customer doesn’t care.

Word Choices

HMS found that people were 27% more likely to call back when a message said they had “important” information vs “helpful.” Consider: when the customer wants something, it should be helpful. But when the business wants something, it better be important enough for the customer to care.

You can support members with words like:

  • Because (because you did x, y, z)
  • Already (you’re already doing x)
  • Smart (you’ve made the smart decision)

They also found an 8% better open rate when an email subject line had the person’s name.

The more you test different word choices, the larger the group you learn about.

Literacy Levels

Just because someone can’t read or understand a set of words doesn’t mean they don’t understand the concept. Plain language and literacy levels are important, but we should also be conscious of context. What words are best? What will a population best understand?

  • Consider context
  • People get actively scared of a lot of the words we use; we need to explain what we’re saying
  • Manage a list of what not to say – instead of/in addition to the words you want to say. It’s a lot easier to track the few you shouldn’t say.
  • Think about stringing words together rather than just using a single word (what is “redetermination?!”)
  • Commiserate with your audience – explain that some of these words are ridiculous, but they really just mean something simple
  • Think about the medium you’re using
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