The European Consumer Centre participated in a competition for good administrative language with its new electronic forms. When they were made, attention was paid on using language that was understandable to consumers, improving customer guidance, streamlining the work of experts at the European Consumer Centre, and accelerating the processing of cases. The Digital and Population Agency’s online guides in the Suomi.fi service were the winner of the competition. The Social Insurance Institution of Finland’s text development programme was also one of the finalists. From the top three candidates, the winner was selected by Minna Karhunen, CEO of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, at the seminar held on the International Plain Language Day on 10 October 2022.
“Vuoden selväsanainen” (in English: clear communicator of the year) is an award for merit granted biennially to a promoter of plain language, and biennially to a promoter of good administrative language. This year, the government and municipal agencies (with their working groups and employees) that had promoted good administrative language were competing for the prize.
According to the Institute for the Languages of Finland, all three finalists had some common features. All of them work together to strengthen the promotion of good administrative language both within their own organisation and beyond. Obtaining and utilising feedback and measuring impacts are an important part of the cooperation. The candidates have also created permanent systems and structures to streamline both texts and workflows. The third common feature is that the development does not focus on individual texts or model texts. Instead, an effort has been made to make it easier to use all the services.
A preliminary panel of experts in administrative language and communication selected three best candidates among the participants. The panel includes representatives of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the Finnish Centre for Easy Language, the Open Government project of the Ministry of Finance, and the Institute for the Languages of Finland.
The new forms guide consumers and streamline service usage
The electronic forms for consumers launched by the European Consumer Centre in December 2021 were produced as part of the ecc.fi online service reform, and they are available in Finnish, Swedish and English.
“Our goal is for consumers to know their rights and get help easily in problematic situations, and this is something we want to promote with our consumer services forms and communications as well. The consumer services forms offer an easier and more guided way of filing a complaint about a foreign company or asking about the rights of consumers in the EU. At the same time, we encourage consumers to use electronic forms, which are always available and work well in mobile views. The forms guide the consumer to provide all the necessary information at once, making it quicker to start using the service,” explains Paula Laitinen, Senior Specialist at the European Consumer Centre, who worked on the electronic forms.
In addition to the forms, one of the goals of the online service reform was to provide consumers with practical information on their rights through frequently asked questions and by offering various ready‑made complaint templates to facilitate filing complaints with companies independently.
Using the European Consumer Centre’s services and their online services will be further developed based on the feedback received.
Vuoden selväsanainen on Suomi.fi-verkkotoimitus. Institute for the Languages of Finland’s press release 10 October 2022 (in Finnish).