Blog Post

The Power of Plain Language: How to Enhance Customer Education by Avoiding Jargon

Amanda Winstead
September 12, 2023
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Jargon. It’s the specialized language used by individuals who are in a niche occupation or professional group—and we all start to use it as we get comfortable within an industry. And sometimes it’s OK to use jargon, such as in conversation with a colleague who understands what you’re talking about. 

But as educators, it’s something we need to be mindful of.. The goal of customer education is to teach customers how to best use products and services so they get the value they expected to receive. If they’re not “speaking the same language,” so to speak, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to get that value.

The Negative Impact of Jargon on Communication and Connection

The best and worst thing about jargon is that it’s meant for a specific group. It can enhance communication and connection among the people who understand and know how to use the language—and it can speed up communication, if certain acronyms are well-understood.

The downside of using jargon is that outsiders of this group may feel alienated because they don’t understand what you’re saying. It can also make people feel frustrated. When we’re learning something, what we’re trying to do is understand a new concept or way of doing things. If people are using words, terms, and acronyms you’re not familiar with, it makes learning so much more difficult. Worse still, some learners will throw in the towel and try learning somewhere else. 

When you’re marketing your customer education program, it’s also important to consider that your audience may not be using jargon to search for your products and services or content related to your business. If you use it frequently in your content, rather than the language your audience currently uses, your visibility on search engines will be low.  

Why Plain Language is Better to Use 

Simple language gives more people a chance to comprehend what you’re communicating, regardless of their background and education level. This makes the learning more accessible. Plus, when learners fully understand what you’re discussing, the content is more enjoyable. And when it’s more enjoyable, they’ll engage with it.  

It’s difficult to learn how to use a product when you don’t understand the words being used to describe how to use that particular product. So, your customer education efforts essentially go to waste because the complex terminology is ruining comprehension. 

Simplify your explanations and your customers will be more likely to absorb the instructions given to them. They’ll then put what you’ve taught them to use and experience the value of doing so. As a result, they’ll build trust and loyalty in your business, increasing the strength of your customer relationships. 

In giving your customers what they need in a way they can truly understand, you’ll inspire loyal relationships that ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue. 

3 Tips for Creating Easily Understandable Content

Creating easily understandable content requires some extra effort because you have to break things down, rather than defaulting to complex terms that might more conveniently convey your point. 

These three tips will help you avoid relying on jargon and create content everyone can comprehend, regardless of experience, background, or ability. 

1. Study Your Target Audience  

You must write for your particular audience and their understanding level. But not every audience is starting from the same place. Some people engaging with your education programs may be relatively new to a field and others may have more experience to lean on.

To figure out what your audience’s understanding level is, it’s necessary to conduct learner persona research. You’ll want to consider questions like:

  • Who does your company typically engage with? 
  • What job titles or ranks do they hold? 
  • What level of education do they tend to have?
  • How much experience do they tend to have within your field or industry? 
  • How complex are the topics they’re learning about? 
  • What related concepts do they already understand?
  • Do they use and understand jargon at all? 

You can gather this data through customer interviews, but you can also capture some of this using analytics tools your team likely already has. For example, your social media platforms, email marketing platform, and website are all great places to search for target audience data.

2. Have a Thorough Understanding of What You’re Covering 

You can’t explain things in simple language if you don’t have a deep understanding of what you’re talking about. It’s that deep understanding that allows you to find straightforward ways to describe something, making it easier for a broad audience to comprehend your content. 

No matter what you’re creating content about, make sure you understand it through and through. For example, let’s say you’re working on content for customer product training videos. You’d need a deep understanding of what your customers need to learn about the product as well as how the product works. 

Take the time to master the topic yourself first. Then, you’ll be able to explain it to your customers in plain language. 

3. Get Feedback From Your Customers 

Do you really want to know if your content is easily understandable? Ask your customers and learners directly. If the people consuming your content say it’s hard to understand and get through, that’s a sign you might need to simplify the language you use. 

Here are a few ideas for gathering customer feedback about the simplicity of your content:

  • Implement a short quiz at the end of every training video 
  • Ask for feedback at the end of content 
  • Send out a satisfaction survey when someone completes your customer education program

Use the feedback you get to move closer to easily understandable, digestible customer education and marketing content. 

There is such a thing as appropriate use of jargon. But it’s better to use plain language in customer education content and the marketing of customer education programs. You’ll be sure your customers understand what you’re trying to teach them, and you’ll build strong relationships that ignite increased revenue because of it. 

About the Author

Amanda Winstead headshot
Amanda Winstead
Freelance Writer
Amanda Winstead is a writer focusing on many topics including technology, customer education, and digital marketing. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter @AmandaWinsteadd.