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The Lines Company’s holds WriteMark for plain English

The Lines Company’s new Terms of Service holds WriteMark for plain English

The Lines Company (TLC) has achieved the WriteMark Plain English Standard, the seal of document quality, for their new Standard Terms of Service.

TLC is the only distributor of electricity over difficult country for a relatively small population. The company serves over 24,000 homes, farms, and businesses from Otorohanga to Ohakune in the central North Island. The large network is 4,500 kms long – the distance from the coast to Sydney and back again.

Louisa Last, Senior Communications Adviser for TLC, says: “Electricity is an essential utility, and its supply has all sorts of safety implications. We know how important it is for customers to have access to information that lets them know what they are responsible for, and what we are responsible for. Clear Terms of Service mean we can all work together to stay connected and safe.”

For TLC, working together started with customer consultation, and customer feedback continued to be used throughout the development of the new Terms of Service. “The customer feedback from the first round of consultation asked ‘Could you make it easier to understand?’ Our goal was a stand-alone document that allowed people to understand who we are and what we do,” Last says.

To create a plain language Terms of Service, TLC worked collaboratively with plain language consultants Write Limited, revising the document to have much plainer language and layout.

How TLC created a plain English Standard Terms of Service

To get the WriteMark, TLC’s Standard Terms of Service was assessed for the many elements that work together to make a document clear. These include logical structure and content, easy-to-follow language, and presentation that makes the messages easy to take in.

TLC’s focus on its customers was built into its revision of the Standard Terms of Service. During the revision’s user-testing phase, customers gave feedback on the document’s clarity and layout. This feedback helped pinpoint what parts needed improvement.

Write’s plain language consultants removed complex language and jargon, and included a definition section to clearly explain any technical words. Simple, yet colourful infographics help explain technical information.

The result is a revised Terms of Service that aims to help customers better understand their rights and responsibilities.

“Clarity helps us work better,” Last explains. “Unlike many other electricity distributors, we engage directly with end customers. They pick up the phone and talk to us about their supply. We need both our customers and our staff to understand what the Terms of Service say, and with the new document, that’s what we’ve got.”


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