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Environment Agency embraces customer-focused writing

Environment Agency embraces customer-focused writing - Emphasis Training Case Study

Environment Agency embraces customer-focused writing

The Environment Agency is a public organisation that works to protect and improve the environment and promote sustainable development practices. The organisation was seeking a more customer-oriented image and approached Emphasis in 2005 to help make its documents and emails more accessible.

‘Our research revealed a real desire to provide the answers that people want as quickly and concisely as possible,’ explains Elaine O’Donnell, Strategic Communications Development Manager. ‘Staff wanted to turn paperwork around more efficiently and provide clear information to help people make environmental improvements.’

The Environment Agency originally signed a three-year contract with Emphasis and subsequently reappointed the company to continue honing its writing skills.

Results focus

Emphasis designed a targeted writing course that included modules on how to make technical subjects more accessible without sacrificing too much information. Previously, employees emphasised explaining the technical side of issues to customers, rather than building a trusting relationship with them. Emphasis gave them the tools to:

  • To improve its public image through greater customer focus.
  • To increase accessibility and reduce technical language.
  • To move towards a new writing culture across the organisation.

This Emphasis training course was delivered for approximately 4,000 employees of the Environment Agency. Follow-up writing clinics, advanced writing skills courses and master classes were also delivered to continue improving the writing standard within the agency. Courses were tailored to different regions, including writing for customers and writing to influence people.

'Emphasis carefully listened to and fully understood our training needs... Its courses are helping us to improve the test we provide.' - Elaine O'Donell, Strategic communications Development Manager, Environment Agency

Improved customer communication

Emphasis taught staff who were used to writing in a technical or scientific way how to write clearly for the average reader. This helped them better serve their customers.

‘Emphasis carefully listened to and fully understood our training needs,’ says Elaine. ‘Its tailored writing courses are helping us to improve the text we provide. As a result, our written communications are becoming clearer and more accessible.’

What the attendees said

The participants on the courses found the informal, interactive style helpful. 'It gave me a totally different way of thinking,’ explains one delegate. ‘The trainer was brilliant – short bursts of practice and lots of interaction,’ says another.

Towards a new writing culture

The training programme has helped the Environment Agency to raise their profile and spread a clear message about what they do. Employees are now able to better focus on clear, simple writing and there is an emphasis on continuous learning.

Emphasis has also implemented an e-learning programme that allows delegates to continue practising their writing skills. It contains a series of interactive modules, which include explanations and exercises to embed learning and promote the new culture of clear, accessible writing.

Read more about Writing to Customers

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