“[Unfamiliar acronyms] create false economies. They may save a few words, but they may also frustrate and force the reader to take more time and effort to understand the document.” U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Plain English Handbook.
Most sectors have their own industry jargon and acronyms, familiar to those working within the industry but not so clear to the customers to whom they are providing services. The PCI DSS is no different with widespread use of acronyms peppered throughout the Self-Assessment Questionnaires and associated supporting documentation.
Unfortunately beautifully written, succinct technical text, does not tend to be universally understood. With a standard that applies across industries such as the PCI DSS, a simplified language is important in what is already a complex process.
An iterative process
Communicating clearly to customers is something that we take very seriously. We are continually working to improve the readability of content across our programmes. While it is vital that we keep “on message” when explaining the intent of the PCI DSS wording, it is important to make the text as readable as possible. Using proofing tools such as the Flesch–Kincaid reading grade level helps in simplifying text.
This proofing tool simply scans content and assigns a readability score to the text, the higher the score the easier it is to understand. The Flesch–Kincaid reading grade level was developed under contract for the U.S. Navy in 1975 by J. Peter Kincaid and his team and was first used by the U.S. Army in 1978.
They used it to assess the difficulty of technical manuals, it was soon adopted by legal and insurance firms to create content that could be understood universally. Simplification is not something that is ever finished but rather is an iterative process, where each version is reviewed and analysed in order to improve on the previous version.
Good business sense
We believe that clear communication plays an important role in developing positive customer relationships. In order to assist our clients we use a number of methods that include, reducing the use of acronyms by spelling out the actual words and using shorter words and sentences. We also focus on addressing the reader directly, rather than in the third person.
By simplifying the content so that it is less difficult to read we are removing some of the mental road blocks that people can have when completing their PCI DSS assessment.
At Sysnet we are proactively working with our clients to ensure that all communications are as simplified as they can be, so that businesses can progress through the compliance journey in the easiest and most efficient way possible.
This process is something that we are constantly working on, refining and tuning things to ensure that your customers feel that they have the complete picture when it comes to ensuring that their business is secure and compliant. If you would like to talk us about how we are consistently improving our products and communications, request a call back.
If you are a merchant that requires technical or PCI DSS help, please click here