Although it is important for effective communication to happen that you speak the same language (i.e. English, Spanish, French) as your customer, that is not what I’m talking about here.
Avoid Using Industry/Insider Terms
Have you ever been in a conversation with two other people who work together and they use acronyms you’ve never heard before? Or, have you been shopping for a new computer and the salesman is rattling off specs that don’t mean a thing to you? We’ve all been in that position at one time or another. Not only can it make a person feel like an outsider, but it can even make them question their own intelligence.
My guess is that you don’t want to make your customers feel that way! The problem is that we become so used to using our industry terms and acronyms that we don’t even realize we are doing it. We have to stop this, but we can’t do it without putting in some effort.
Test Your Communication On “Outsiders”
If you want to speak in a way that your customers will understand, test what you are writing or saying on someone who is completely disconnected from your industry. Pass that marketing material over to your brother who works in a different industry. Recite your sales pitch to an interested friend and see what questions they have (helping you identify what you may need to adjust).
Practice How You Speak About Your Business
Whether you are describing a product you sell or explaining the latest software that your business uses to better serve your customers, write down the things you want to say and then practice reciting them. Inevitably, if I am not prepared to speak about something, I will default to using the language that I am most comfortable with – technical jargon specific to my industry.
I have found it helpful to practice my words by pretending I am talking to a middle school student. This forces me to use more simple concepts and makes me more aware of what I am saying.
Put some thought into how you speak to your customers. Take steps to make sure you are speaking in terms that they will understand. You may just find that your words have greater impact when you are speaking your listener’s language!