Are You Expecting Your Customers To Be Experts On Your Business?
I’m back this week with our new series on connecting with clients and customers.
In "Connecting with Customers,” I'm sharing 5 personal customer experiences I've had recently that illustrate great points about how to improve your business and mistakes to avoid.
We’re looking at customer service and experience because it does function as a part of your brand identity - i.e. it’s within your and your employee’s control to influence.
There’s so much about a customer’s experience you can’t control, so we’ll be talking about what you can affect to keep your brand as healthy as possible with your audience.
In today's story, we'll look at:
TALKING TO CUSTOMERS AT THEIR LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
This is something you don’t often hear talked about: what level of knowledge, vocabulary, and expectation you should have about your prospective clients and customers. Let’s talk about why this matters and how to recalibrate if you’re missing the mark to reach these important audiences.
You can’t assume that your customers know what you know - they don’t.
On the same DC trip I shared with you recently, we stayed at a new hotel in Dupont Circle. When I checked in, the male staff person told me about their nifty app! He said all I needed to do if I needed anything from the hotel front desk (having my car pulled from valet, weather check, directions), I could just text the app.
Super cool! How fancy! I thought as I got the first welcome text from the hotel. I was excited to try it later that afternoon to pull our car up from valet for dinner.
Here’s what happened though.
- I texted
- The app responded (as a person) saying no problem! 5-10 minutes
- We proceed to go down and wait for 20 minutes, still no car.
Frustrated, I go to speak to the front desk - this time it’s a woman. I ask her about the car and mentioned I used the app. She says,
Why did you use the app? (*she rolls her eyes at me*) The app doesn’t work!
OH, I’m sorry - how on earth was I supposed to know that?? Thanks for talking to me like I’m an idiot.
I’m your customer and guest at your hotel. I was given information and maybe that information was inaccurate. Rather than quickly recognize I’m a frustrated customer who was given incorrect information, this person chose to scold me for not knowing something she knew (as an expert in the business) and assumed that EVERYONE knew. Bad mistake, bad brand experience.
Obviously this is an extreme example of terrible customer service, but there’s a lesson here for everyone: in customer and client interactions, stop and consider their perspective and knowledge level before you speak or act.
- Does this person have access to the same information I do?
- Might this person be confused (and might I have caused the confusion?)
- What can I do to respond helpfully with a welcoming attitude (even if the customer may be wrong or have an incorrect understanding?)
The larger lesson about customer communication: if you know your business as an expert (level 10), you’ve got to communicate with your prospective customers at a level 1 or 2, so you don't go over their heads.
This philosophy comes from Donald Miller’s business, StoryBrand. And it rings true in the story I shared and in any marketing you put forth to your audience.
Remember: we’re all busy people. Most of us don’t have time to have expertise in multiple businesses or brands. We are scanning websites, marketing and more for clear, easy-to-understand messaging and visuals. So make that easy for your clients or they’ll bounce.
Keep in mind that when you use:
- High level and strange vocabulary
- Too many words
- Unrelatable examples or analogies
And similar expert-level content in your marketing (like your website and social media), you run the risk of clients and customers not being able to connect with you.
You’ve got to meet them at their level and understand what that level is. It may vary based on the education level of your audience, but generally speaking - it’s going to be at a far lower level than you’re used to talking about your business.
EXERCISE TO MAKE YOUR CONTENT MORE ACCESSIBLE
Spend ten minutes today going through your own website and social media looking for super long paragraphs, high-level/expert words, or anything you feel like someone with a level 1-2 knowledge about your business would not understand or connect with easily.
Then break up those paragraphs, reduce the level of those words (can you get them down to more “TV” language but preserve some of the meaning), and see what you can do to clean up and clear up your message behind what you do and how you help others.
What's Coming Next Week?
In Part 3, I'll be talking about how to (and how not to) talk about your clients online.
What questions or stories do you have about customer service and experience? Let me know - I'd love to know what you’re thinking about these days.
Articles for Further Reading:
- Three Ways To Improve Your Communication With Clients (Forbes)
- The "Thank You" Effect - 50 Small Ways to Improve Customer Service (SalesForce)
- 4 Ways to Improve Customer Communication (Inc)