ImageU.S. regulators continue to work toward clearer credit card and loan agreements. Here’s the latest on their plans to test a simplified credit card agreement early next year.

I recently completed a training series where I presented to employees of Canadian banks on how to apply clear communication principles to their credit card and loan agreement documents. This is to help them continue their work to comply with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (the Canadian regulatory body) clear presentation principles; the regulator will be doing preliminary review of their compliance in early- to mid- 2012.

A couple things I heard over and over from participants were these:

  • That even when they write and design key information and legal text in a customer-friendly way, the customers just plain do not bother to read them. I heard the word ‘customer irritation factor’ used to describe this.
  • That sometimes they suspect that info of being marketing material, and ignore it for that reason.

So I am thinking that those two thirds of cardholders who do not know the pertinent info about their cards may be there in part because they just plain don’t read that stuff, clear or otherwise – so that’s why they don’t understand their benefits and obligations. It’s similar to how we all just scroll down and
click the Accept button without reading the new user agreement when downloading upgrade software.

Can a good experience turn those irritated customers around?

My counter to this is that if the customer only looks at this info once they are having a problem meeting a condition or need to see how it applies to them, then making it easy to grasp will not only ensure they’re clearly informed; it will also leave a lasting impression from the ‘customer experience’ point of view.

It might even follow — over time, of course — that the more accustomed we become to seeing clear information from a company, the more we’re likely to feel less skeptical about reading their documents and using their services in the future.

What’s your take on this? Leave your comment…