Delivering excellence in Customer Experience – CX – can often be hampered by the over use of jargon. Glutes, BTEC, Macchiato, HIT, HRT, plaintiff, FORME, probate, ‘skin in the game’. What’s that about?
Jargon surrounds us in everyday life – from the gym to the solicitors, from school to the coffee shop. We are continuously bombarded with words and phrases that are unique to the situation that we are in, but at what cost to businesses if the customer does not understand the ‘jargon’?
Chris Lowe, director of customer experience experts insight6, explains why businesses must put themselves in their customers’ shoes:
At insight6 we understand that jargon can be a barrier in achieving great customer experience or CX in my world! Jargon can disable communication that is vital in building relationships because it excludes some and includes others.
When a customer is ‘in the know’ and understands the jargon they feel good, as it means they belong to a ‘secret member’s club’. It may even increase their sense of social status, but it has no place in the dialogue when a business is trying to communicate with a customer who is not yet on the inside. In this case, before a customer has opted in or bought from a business, jargon can restrict customer choice, and it will reduce the likelihood of participation.
This is because feeling comfortable and secure (without being socially undermined) is a fundamental psychological need for the customer who is making a choice in the marketplace.
insight6 researchers report on over 20,000 customer experiences (CX) in businesses from retail to legal practices every year.
We completed 100’s of enquiries into private schools across the UK to understand what the experience is like for parents when they make contact with a potential new school. Here, we found ‘tour’ a commonly used and understood word ‘jargonised’ and used out of context as a short hand description for the all-important first face to face meeting between a family and a school. Over 80% of schools did not explain the details of the tour and consequently baffled the customer. The consequence of that was that parents were left feeling confused and insecure when they could have been excited and one step closer to making a positive decision.
Moving on to the legal profession, in recent focus group research exercises, we spoke to customers who had used a solicitor in the last six months. The majority of the 40 participants described how the solicitor made them feel left out and uninvolved in the process by using phrases and terms the participant did not understand. One disillusioned client described their uncomfortable experience: “I sat there listening to my solicitor not understanding a word they were saying and thought ‘what is the point in having all that knowledge if it is only to make him feel important?’ – he might as well have been speaking in Chinese.” The client left feeling alienated, leading to a lower likelihood of recommendation and no repeat business!
And how about ‘everyday’ jargon? We took the example of a coffee shop and asked 60 women about their experiences. When walking into a coffee shop customers are greeted with a variety of words up on a menu, most of it in Italian – macchiato, cappuccino, flat white. It appears that customers should implicitly understand what each of the coffee choices are and which one is perfect for them. We all know that learning occurs through experience and if you have never experienced these drinks, how would you know what they are? It is interesting that on the occasion that a barista or the server takes the time to explain the choices, provide a sample or simply takes an interest in what the women liked, an average service experience turned into a multi-faceted, emotionally charged brilliant customer experience. This makes life more interesting for them and everyone else as they tell everyone about their new coffee discovery.
Jargon is a barrier to experience and leaves people on the outside looking in. It is exclusive rather than inclusive, with only those ‘in the know’ having the freedom to make confident choices and becoming fully engaged in what is on offer. Just because you might be ‘in the know’ does not mean your customer is.
The first step is to identify the jargon that you have become deaf, dumb and blind to in your business. The desire to be unique does not need to alienate those you seek to attract. Welcome your customers in on the secret jargon, educate your customers, provide an experience through engaging with them, be humble and inclusive. Empower your customers to build a relationship with you; do not disempower them by keeping them out in the cold. The effects will be beneficial for both YOU and your customer.
We know from our research that dismantling the jargon will unlock the customer experiences you long to provide.
Here are our six jargon-busting tips:
1. Teach your team to identify when a customer looks lost by the jargon and use that as an opportunity to build rapport
2. Have a team session brain storming your jargon and how to make it customer friendly
3. Host a focus group with customers and find out what words or phrases they don’t understand and how you can make it clear
4. Remove jargon from your vocabulary e.g. if you are a school ban the word Bursar, if you are a solicitor explain the word arbitration, if you are a grocery store describe Kombucha if you want to sell it!
5. Use your jargon for a positive drive to bring customers onboard with all the innovation, new experiences that they can have.
6. Measure the impact of explaining more and assuming less.
Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinjllewellyn/6826303487 /
Gavin Llewellyn. www.onetoomanymornings.co.uk.