Should you use the language of the customer – even when it’s contrary to what you think the terms mean?
There are a few key examples that sometimes I groan about.
People use the word scale when they are really in growth stage getting ready to scale.
People talk about digital transformation when what they are really doing is digitization. Though if digitization is new to them, then it can be transforming for their business.
Personalization is another word that gets confused. Personalization means a whole range of things to different people. Often confused with tailoring or customization.
Using a person’s name in your email salutation is not personalization. Sending a specific email to a customer because of where you understand they are at in their journey is personalization. Sending one segment of users an email and another segment a different email is personalization.
I know it’s the techy side of me that ends up splitting hairs on these things. But I know that going down a path of correcting people will just get us both into the weeds.
It’s an interesting conundrum.
In one sense we should use the language of the customer. But that’s that should word.
Words do sometimes change when they become popular and are used by a wider group of people.
Bandwidth started out as a technical term for a range of a transmission frequency. Now it’s interchangeable with capacity. Capacity of anything. Not just technical things.
You can also use the language people use to qualify your customers. Listen to how they use a word can tell you where they are and what you could do for them.
For example, that growth stage company talking about scale may be talking aspirational. If you help people get ready to scale, then you may still use the word scale more than growth. To acknowledge that aspiration.
Sometimes letting go of language and asking clarifying questions is more illuminating.
Much more illuminating than getting stuck in a conversation about words.
What do you think?
What are the common terms in your business that can lose their meaning?