One of my favourite songs from my childhood is Strawberry Fields, by the Beatles. Musically it’s everything the 60’s had to offer, but the lyrical brilliance is what really resonates.
I was thinking about this the other day when I was reading a survey. The subject was breakfast foods and snacks, and one of the questions referred to “ready to eat cereals”. I passed over this, as I assumed it meant something like single serving packages or pre-packaged bowls, not the regular boxed cereals we generally have in the cupboard. I was wrong; apparently RTEC, or ready to eat cereal, is industry jargon for the majority of cereals we eat every day.
How does this relate to Strawberry Fields? One of the most insightful lines in the song is: “Living is easy with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see.”
I think that’s what we see every day when dealing with folks trying to understand their customers. When they go out to engage with the customer, design brochures, field surveys…they start from what they know – which includes jargon. In our own little worlds we develop a common understanding as to the meaning of our words and phrases, and then we expect those outside of our world to have the same understanding.
One of the most valuable services we perform for our clients is to engage their customers in a conversation directed at understanding what language the customer uses. Once you actively listen to what the customer is saying about you, your product, their problems, and how they are saying it, you’ll be able to better understand how you can help them, and how you can effectively communicate it to them in a way that they will understand clearly.
So, four rules:
1. Find ways to really listen to your customers, (i.e. not surveys)
2. Listen to how they engage with you; words, media, feelings, frustrations
3. Make your team accountable for the feedback you get from customers
4. Adjust your internal conversations to align with the way your customers express themselves
John and Paul said: “It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out.”
We hope it works out for you!
Steve and Megann