The secret to smarter customers
Thursday, January 29, 2015
I want to be a good customer. I don't mean that I want to spend a lot of money at a particular establishment or with a particular vendor. What I want to do is communicate comfortably and easily with the people who are providing me with a service. Then, they know what I want and can deliver it, and we'll both be happy.
My 3-year-old niece is told to "use your words" instead of crying. But what happens when I don't have the words to use? Herein lies the dilemma.
Example: It's been my recent habit to go to the shoemaker to have metal things put on the heels of my new shoes so I don't require a $25 repair. The first time I went in I asked for "heel taps." He was confused but he figured out what I want.
The second time I tried a different word and asked for "cleats." The third time, I finally asked, "What do you call these things?" "Heel plates." Oh, OK. Now I can tell him what I want without getting that quizzical look.
Working through the lingo at the shoemaker is reasonably easy: we're both there, we're both looking at the shoes, and I can describe what I want.
Next I need to talk to the roofer — not about the gutter, not about the roof, but about the thing that hangs down off the gutter and is attached to the wall of the house. The "fascia."
Now, I'm on the phone with customer service for a software service. It's not just that the representative's English is suspect, but I don't have the vocabulary of the service. So I'm trying to describe the problem best that I can, and they don't understand.
We're looking for the "aha moment" when he finally responds with a confident, "Are you having issues with your CIS?" Huh? "The customer interface screen?" Yes. That's what it's called, the "CIS."
The usual discussion concerning language barriers between customers and support refers to different native languages. That would be a scenario where the salespeople grew up speaking English and the customer grew up speaking Spanish.
But that's not what we’re talking about here. Companies like to think that the way they speak to their customers is via some type of universal language. Well, it's only universal within the company. And, as we all know, every industry, every company, every project has its own jargon.
Sometimes, all I want is to know is the meaning of a specific set of initials. Google and Wikipedia don't really help. I find myself scrolling and scrolling to find something that might provide appropriate information. It can be maddening.
Glossaries describing the language of the company's products and services would be helpful.
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