Keep the jargon in the office; communicate in your customers’ language

Every business will have its own internal jargon to describe processes, products and services. Just like the brand logo and slogan, internal jargon becomes part of a company’s identity. The challenge is ensuring the jargon stays in the office and doesn’t infiltrate your marketing communications.

Internal jargon when describing products and services can save time for staff (for example, product name abbreviations) but allowing in-house language to make the crossover into customer communication can result in alienation, which is definitely not the way to win customer attention.

When you are immersed in the language of your business on a daily basis, knowing how much jargon is appropriate when talking to customers can be difficult to determine. A day-to-day example of communication confusion is the humble coffee shop. Starbucks’ ‘short, tall, grande and venti’ terminology to replace ‘extra small, small, large, extra large’ can leave customers irritated when staff correct them or assume they know what the options mean.

This kind of communication can indeed affect consumers more drastically. A Which? survey concluded that almost two thirds of consumers are unable to work out the cheapest energy deal provided by the big six power companies; almost a third picked the wrong tariff while a further third found it impossible to calculate or work out what they were meant to do, according to the survey of 1,515 adults.

Joanna Swash, Moneypenny’s Commercial Director, offers her advice on communicating with prospects and customers alike with her three top tips:

1. Think like your customer, that is, they have a lack of time and they need maximum information in the minimum interaction time. Keep benefits to the point and the options simple.

2. Don’t dumb down, but do explain clearly. Don’t take your own understanding for granted.

3. Ask the customer what they want from the product or service and how they’d like it to work for them; then tailor your language accordingly so they’re getting an adapted version of your selling tactics.

Customers do not like to be confused or overwhelmed with information when making a purchase decision. They like to feel in control of their decision and not confused or intimidated by technical terms.

You don’t want to go too far the other way, either; customers don’t respond well to being patronised. Balancing assumption of customers’ needs with explanation of the product or service can be a hard knack to master, but will ultimately win your customers’ respect.