It’s interesting to see how more companies are being mindful of their words both internally and externally. We sometimes underappreciate the connotations that words carry as we interact with different people groups.
A prime example of this is in the car industry when a few dealerships started referring to their cars as pre-owned instead of used. They were mocked and probably made fun of at first, but today would you rather have a guy sell you a used car or pre-owned? One seems like a gamble with cash under the table and the other one seems like a well-maintained vehicle. Now both of those assumptions could be totally wrong, but it shows that words, no matter how small, matter in our business.
We’ll cover a couple of the bigs ones here.
What you call your customer
We often use all sorts of different verbiage for this one on our podcast. That is because we are trying to connect on a basic language level with all of our audience. Thankfully you don’t have that same hurdle and can pick exactly what you want to refer to your customers as. This may seem like an internal piece, but it is guaranteed that your customers will be exposed to whatever you decide to call them.
I take to the word “guest” often for the same reason that Disney does. Disney heavily believes in the power of words and chooses the word guest because the word sparks an emotion in both the employee and the customer.
For the Employee;
- A guest is someone you have in your home and in the same way, you treat them with that care, love and respect like you would with someone coming over for dinner.
- You naturally want to go above and beyond for your guests, whether that’s through service or the experience. (Think about your date coming over for the first time to your place)
- It lends itself to more of a personal experience.
For the Customer:
- They feel less like a transaction for the company.
- It can create a higher level of expectation.
You don’t have to use the exact phrase of “guest”. Use what feels best for your team and where you are.
Team/Staff/ company name (er)/anything VS. Employee
When I was in college, I worked part-time at a bookstore where we went through 100 people in two years. It was the equivalent of losing your whole team 2.5 times a year! It got to the point that we referred to each other by our employee badge numbers instead of our names behind the scenes. We certainly didn’t help the culture in that way, but that is how we felt. We felt like a number and nothing else.
Companies are realizing the value in their own culture and making changes to how they address their people. Many like Tire Hub are simply adding an “er” to the part or all of their name to designate employees. Case in point, they call their people Hubbers. Here are some other out of the box names.
- JetBlue employees are called crewmembers
- Amazon employees are Amazonians
- Klout employees are Kloutlaws
- Twitter employees are Tweeps
I’ve said in the past that I associate a badge number with the word employee. Avoid referring to your people this way. It’s impersonal.
Take some time to think about some areas where you may need to change your verbiage. No doubt it will cover areas not listed here today. Work to align your words with your companies vision.
Make a better tomorrow.