"Actually talk to your customers. Use the language that they use. Talk about the things they talk about. Never feed salad to a lion." -Jay Acunzo
Last week we jammed on why it’s important to speak the same “language” as our customers.
[Missed it? You can catch it here.]
Remaining authentic was a concern and a valid one. There's nothing inauthentic by speaking in a way that people can hear you. I’d actually argue that we aren’t using empathy and our emotional intelligence to it’s fullest ability when we don’t speak in our customers' language.
But, you might be thinking, that’s great, Kim. Speak in my customers' language. But how am I supposed to do that? How do I even know what my customers' language is?
This week, I want to share a few easy tips that will have you fluent in your customers' language in no time!
Ever notice that when you’re learning another language it’s easier to hear it spoken and understand it than it is to speak it?
The same goes for learning your customers' language.
We can learn the most by listening first.
When talking to customers I like to take the LRR. Ok, so that’s not a thing. I wanted to make a mnemonic device for you that sounds like a railroad line….When talking to customers' or anyone new, I do like to go with Listen, Reflect, Rephrase.
It goes a little something like this:
Start by listening. This might sound overly simple and obvious, but simple doesn’t mean easy and obvious is often overlooked.
Ever catch yourself just waiting for a break in conversation to share your thoughts?
It’s pretty normal for the volume on our listening to go way down while our internal chatter and talking gets turned way up when we’re caught up in trying to convey our message, connect, impress someone, make a sale or book a gig.
There is immense power in taking the time to slow down and listen.
Your customers will often tell you exactly what they want and how they want it. The question is, are you listening?
Instead of just waiting to jump in with your pitch, allow the other person to talk and practice actively listening. You can bump your listening up a notch by asking questions.
Asking questions allows the other person to share and gives you a chance to listen and learn. It also shows interest, which is just nice.
If you do nothing else, amping up your listening game will bring you closer to understanding your customers’ world and result in a better connection.
But listening is more than just hearing.
Can you reflect back to your customer that you hear them using their own words?
Simply restating your customers' words can show them you are in fact listening, hear them, and understand them. This is “speaking their language”.
A recent study found reflecting people’s words back to them can be an important part of creating safety, rapport and social cohesion. All that from listening and reflecting a few words.
We all have certain words and phrases we like to use that are a part of our unique "language." When we reflect the same words someone else uses, it shows we’re listening, brings us into their world, and according to research makes people feel we understand them better.
If this sounds too simple, consider this, another study showed that waitresses who reflected a customer’s order back to them got higher tips than those who didn’t!
After you’ve been actively listening and reflecting your customers' words, you’ll organically start to build a rapport. You can then start to rephrase some of their words.
It’s been shown that it doesn’t matter what order we reflect words back. Rephrasing is a great way to test how well we understand someone else's language. It allows us to practice their language and deepen the conversation.
By continuing to listen, reflect, and rephrase with each customer and potential customer, you’ll begin to not only speak each individual customer’s unique language, but you’ll start to notice a common thread.
I like to keep a file of common words and phrases that jump out to me. This list is like my customer vocab list. (So you’ve been warned, I’m listening.)
You can “study” this vocab list and use the exact phrases and words you know your customers use on your copy, website, and marketing as well as in one on one conversations. You can also reflect and rephrase your customers' language in your social media posts, your blog posts, or other content you share. This is where you can get "fluent" in your customers' language.
Mirroring our customers' words can be a powerful tool, but with power comes responsibility. I’m imagining handing you a secret magic book or invisibility cloak a la Harry Potter right now.
I joke, but in all seriousness, this isn't about trying to be manipulative - that's gross, please don't be a jerk. It's about authentically connecting with and understanding our customers so we can better serve them.
We also want to remain authentic to our brand, purpose, product or service, and most importantly ourselves, so this isn’t about becoming a weird parrot that just repeats every word it hears.
Use common sense and keep your own language intact as you bridge the gap to connect with customers.
When we listen and actually hear, then reflect back what our customers are saying from a place of understanding and service we can authentically speak their language, create a stronger connection, and do so from a place of integrity.
Wishing you your version of success,
P.S. Know someone else who might like this blog? I'd be so grateful if you shared it with them!