This is a guest post.
In a March 3rd post (Are you listening to your customers but not really listening?), Adrian writes that we may be hearing our customers but not listening to them.
From his post:
I don’t think I am much different to anyone else and I think this is one of the biggest challenges that we face when it comes to trying to develop the relationships we have, whether in our business or personal lives.
I agree it’s a big challenge, and I think customer service that lacks empathy is company service, not customer service. And key to this whole thing is putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes.
I know, it’s hard to get out of the business mindset. Anyone who has worked in an even slightly technical environment knows how easy it is to slip into jargon, for example. After a while, it becomes second nature and hard to remember how normal people talk about whatever it is you sell.
It then seeps out into the world through marketing and customer interactions. You see it everywhere. Most tech company websites, for example, use jargon-y, unintentionally obfuscating language that the company doesn’t even realize is jargon-y anymore.
In fact, there’s very little communication to customers in direct language. And it’s only a symptom of a larger problem.
Have we forgotten that we’re customers too? We have to be able to step away mentally and approach our own companies from an outside, customer point of view. It’s hard, but we have to shed our business skins and become plain old customers again for five minutes.
When we do that, all the jargon and unintentionally obfuscating language tends to stand out, looking pretty awkward and overdone.
Here’s an exercise:
Go to some websites for companies similar to yours but in completely different industries. Note the jargon—you’re not in the industry, so it’ll stand out like a sore thumb. Then go to your competitors’ and your own websites and compare.
After doing that, you may see how little customers care about a lot of what’s on these websites, including your own. You may see how most of it serves the company, not the customers.
Bottom line: we need to step out of the trees to get a good look at the forest.
It can be a tough exercise, but it’s one worth doing. It can help us all become more empathetic to our customers. And, as a result, better listeners.
This post was written by Charlie Smith who has written about technology and life for almost 20 years, as a reporter, technical writer and blogger. He currently foists his ideas onto the world as the Marketing Communications Director for Plum Voice, an IVR-industry leader, through Plum’s IVR Deconstructed blog. Charlie has a B.A. from James Madison University.