Love thy comma

Do you remember those, sometimes hilarious, examples from school classes, where teachers tried to bestow on us the importance of using the correct punctuation marks? For example, how the meaning of a sentence is completely transformed with the cannibalistic difference in “Let’s eat, grandma” and “Let’s eat grandma”?  Or whether you have “thirty five-euro bills” or “thirty-five euro bills”.

Our everyday work is filled with information from many different sources. It comes especially apparent in the insurance and banking business, where we need to consider the business needs, the customer experience side, all the technical aspects, and not the least, the legislative demands. It’s not just punctuation we need to be attentive of, but all kinds of terms and terminology we use when we talk about our customers business, likewise internally as with the customers. And sometimes it gets complicated. It might feel like splitting hairs, but it all matters and makes a real difference, a bit like all the rules with commas and such.

Customer identification vs. identity verification

Take for example one of our recent realization, when we were faced with the difference between customer identification (FIN: asiakkaan tunnistaminen) and identity verification (FIN: henkilöllisyyden todentaminen). Especially in Finnish as the words, tunnistaminen vs. todentaminen, sound and feel so alike, it leaves you wondering where’s the difference. Still, the former is less rigid a procedure than the latter, and the difference in the process is significant. These come from the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML Act) and when one word in the legislation was changed to the other, it had major impact on the outpayment process for savings and life insurance benefits. And while figuring out the system solution to support this, quite a few of us, including myself, came to realize rather concretely what a difference one word can make.

The impact of getting even the small details right, it isn’t just a legislation driven task dictating what our customers need to get done and how our systems must facilitate those needs. It’s much more than that.

The ability to speak our customers language is an important factor when building credibility and the customers trust. It’s also about showing respect to the customer and their business. But even more importantly it’s vital when making sure that things are understood in the same way and everybody is thereby aiming at the same outcome. At Profit Software we are proud of our eagerness to closely listen to our customers, to understand their business, the needs, the challenges… and occasionally tackle the comical or infuriating consequences occurring when talking about “man-eating chicken” instead of “man eating chicken”.

Read more:

FIN-FSA: Customer due diligence in Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing