Thursday, July 22, 2010

Your customers want clarity

Clarity – clear and honest communication – can be your secret weapon in business. Why? Because your customers really want it, and your competitors don’t deliver it. Heck, your competitors may never have heard of it.

In other words, you can stand out just by acting a little more human than a bunch of stuffed shirts.

Author Daniel H. Pink (pictured) tells more in a superb opinion piece in last Sunday’s Telegraph (UK), drawing on software entrepreneur Jason Fried. Both men are incisive observers of language.

Mr. Pink writes:

Not too long ago, Fried saw [an accident] in a Chicago cafe. A woman had just purchased a large cup of coffee. On the way to sit down, she tripped, and spilled the entire contents all over another customer.

Here’s what she said: “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

“If someone is really, truly sorry,” says Fried, “that’s how they respond.”

But in business we rarely talk like that. Instead, we resort to a weird and inadvertent bilingualism. We speak human at home and “professionalese” at work. And that might be hurting our businesses more than we realise.

[Consider] that all-too-common phrase: “We apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused.” Would you say that to your daughter when you were late picking her up from football practice?

Later in the piece, Mr. Pink quotes Mr. Fried again: “The real winners in business are going to be the clear companies. Clarity is what everybody really wants and appreciates.”

I urge you to read the entire piece. It could inspire you to deliver (or more frequently deliver) what your customers really want.

The Takeaway: Write and talk naturally in business, as you do in your private life. Natural, clear language will surprise and delight your customers. If your corporate lawyers want to convert your language into “professionalese,” ignore them.

See disclaimer.

Update, later the same day: My browser, Mozilla Firefox, crashed. It had never happened before, so I was seeing the error message for the first time. It began, "We're Sorry." Good show, Mozilla!

No comments:

Post a Comment