There are many aspects to customer experience and a big one not often mentioned is language. As one consultancy's report reveals, poor language is translating to millions in wasted CX spend.
When it comes to CX, a prime focus tends to be on delivering innovative content and engaging the consumer. Little is heard about literal communication — words, voice — with a customer and how well the language is working. Poor language can prove costly and damaging to the brand, according to new data.
A study from The Writer, a language consultancy, reveals U.S. businesses could be wasting $1.18 million a year by ineffective language used in communicating with customers, and 66 percent have never formally reviewed how they use language within the CX strategy.
Yet U.S. businesses believe good language can increase the effectiveness of customer experience spend by 10 percent. Of the 200 businesses polled, 43 percent have language guidelines in place, but less than half, 49 percent, apply the guidelines and just 15 percent have reviewed them in the last two years.
Overall the data reflects a big disconnect between what a business knows in regard to language effectiveness and what they do, noted the report. That's not a good trend as language plays a critical role in customer interaction, engagement, communication and the overall customer experience.
Retail Customer Experience reached out to Laura Carus, creative director at The Writer, to get further insight on the study data and why retailers need to put a spotlight on language in designing a winning customer experience.
Retail Customer Experience: Communicating and good communications seem like a no-brainer in providing a good customer experience, but do most retailers consider it or realize its importance as an element in CX?
Laura Carus: They say they do. Recently we did some research with senior CX people about how important language is to them. Nearly 60 percent of the people we spoke to in retail said language was either very or extremely important to their customer experience. They don't all seem to be doing much about it, though. We see a lot of stuff from retailers we think could be better.
More and more retailers are coming are asking for help with anything from big pieces of customer communication to terms and conditions on the back of coupons. They're realizing it's not just things like ads that influence their customers' perception of their brand.
RCE: What would you recommend as a starting point for a retailer to assess its language?
Carus: The best starting point is your customer journeys. Most CX people will know them inside out, but not everyone is focusing on language as part of that.
For each of your touch points, look at where language comes in. It could be an order confirmation or dispatch email or a call center script and even the words that navigate customers through to the checkout on your website or app.
Then try to figure out what's your biggest problem. Is it that your language isn't consistent throughout the journey? (For example, is it friendly one moment and formal the next?) Or is it that it isn't distinctive enough? (For example, does it sound like it could've come from any one of your competitors?)
Two other things to look out for are empathy and efficiency. For empathy, think about: will the customer feel welcome? Will it make them feel like you value them, and that you understand what they want? Will it make them feel good about giving you their money?
On the efficiency front, think about whether is it clear. If not, you might get confused customers ringing you up. Is it succinct? If not, people might decide they just can't be bothered and give up before they check out.
We usually find it's a combination of all these things that puts customers off.
RCE: Can you share any tips or quick hits retailers can undertake to boost the 'language' aspect in CX?
Carus: To start with, decide on a couple of things to look at and rewrite, then measure the results. Focus on anything that's causing you problems — is there a step in your journey customers tend to complain about, for example? Try rewriting the communications around it and see if your complaints drop. Or is there something customers get confused about? Try making it clearer, and see if you get fewer customers calling in.
Once you've got some proof, it'll be easier to make the business case for tackling the rest.
/ Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.