Cliques Don’t Click with Your Customers

April 28th, 2011

Quick: how many of you immediately know what “location-based social media” means? More importantly, how many of you think the average person knows what this means?

I recently had to discourage a smart, valued client from using this term in a customer survey I was creating for his company. I reminded him that most folks simply won’t understand the question, resulting in a missed opportunity for client connection and getting important information.

It’s second-nature for all of us to use shop talk or technical terms in our day-to-day work life. The danger is when you use it with your customers, whether in person or through your marketing.

Using “insider” talk is embedded in our psyches, pushed by our very natural human urge to merge with others, to be on the “inside.” Remember those heady junior high and high school days where the latest slang would race like wildfire through your group, further cementing your place as the cool groupie?

But in the work world, using “professional slang” or shop talk is very alienating to your clients and customers. If they don’t get what you’re saying, they feel confused. Or stupid. Or irritated. And most times, they walk away.

Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep it direct. Always have someone outside your department and (even better) outside your industry review your materials for clarity and understanding before they go out to the client. When in doubt – leave it out.

Because we never want our customers to feel left out.

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