This Is What Happens When People "Talk" The Customer

If your culture is like most organizations, you have your own language.

Whether you are in the communications business, the law profession, or medicine, over time people develop a vocabulary specific to what you do; it is understood by all.

The issue is that your unique language is reflective of looking inward to your products, technology, systems, and operating procedures rather than outward to your customers.

If you don’t “customerize” your language you can hardly say that you are addicted to serving customers in every way possible. The words and music don’t match.

Also read: How To Launch Your Startup With A Customer Service Culture

In addition, behavior can’t change to be outwardly directed to the customer if the internally focused language implies the opposite.

These are only 2 examples that contrast inward versus facing language.

1. Calls processed

Most organizations have call center operations which typically handle sales and service responsibilities. The productivity objective of most call centers is to process as many calls with as few resources as possible. Other metrics include call speed of answer and average call handling time.

The common denominator of this operation is the word “call”. You process calls. You answer incoming calls as fast as you can. You try and minimize the length of each call to maximize productivity.

The problem is that the customer is missing in action. If the call is the focus with implied productivity measures, it is hardly a wonder that taking care of the customer on the call gets lost as a priority.

Employees are more interested in call productivity — because they are rated on it — than creating memorable experiences for customers.

The solution is to eliminate the call processing mentality and start talking about serving customers.

Start talking about the number of customers served; customer wait time and customer serving time.

2. Customer commitment

At least the customer is in this expression, but it lacks the personal dimension that is so important in serving customers well.

I like the word “promise”. Companies make commitments; people make promises. There is much more serving power in customer promises than customer commitments.

The productivity metrics become much more meaningful and visceral under the promises notion. What % of customer promises did you keep? How many promises did you break? Who in the organization is the best at keeping customer promises?

WOW! Much more powerful and easy for employees to relate to than the company commitment paradigm.

Also read: How To Build A Culture Of Execution

Here’s an easy process to change your language to reflect more of a customer focus.

1. Develop a dictionary of your current language.

2. Identify the word/expressions that you understand but which lack the punch of passionately serving customers.

3. Create customer words to replace the internal jargon focused ones.

4. Change internal success metrics to reflect your customerized language. For example measure promises kept rather than commitments met.

5. Communicate to employees why you are changing your language; emphasize that serving customers is a critical element of your future.

You can’t have it both ways: saying that customers are your most precious asset yet through your language highlighting the internal fabric of your organization.

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