Beware of Utility Lingo in Customer-centric World
Roger Woodworth, principal consultant at Mindset Matters, helps others align strategies for greater impact. Previously he was vice president and chief strategy officer of Avista Corp. He’s chaired Edison Electric Institute’s customer service executive advisory committee and was board president of the National Hydropower Association and the Northwest Gas Association.
We all know words matter. A lot.
Words are like arrows. Once released, the course is set. They strike a target with great force and cannot be recalled. Best be certain that your intent is clear and your aim true before the release. To do otherwise risks unintended and irrevocable consequences.
Words matter. In concert with actions, the turn of a phrase can define the quality of any relationship, be it among individuals or between organizations and clients. Effective communication depends on deliberate delivery. Yet, we’re generally more in-the-moment in how we talk.
A casual approach to communications is not surprising in the context of day-to-day conversations. But not when that talk involves an organization sharing information with customers. How customers might receive an intended message is more often assumed than tested and affirmed. Most organizations rely on lingo common to their industry and enterprise. Why is that?
Perhaps this reliance is because childhood memories of mothers’ admonitions to watch your language have long since faded. Could it be ignorance or arrogance in play, causing an organization to communicate only on its terms?
Surely this was the case in the storied faux pas of Chevrolet’s promotion of its once-famous Nova in Mexico. In Spanish, no va means not going. Not a smart label for a car.