I moved to the US first time in 1993. My English was pretty good, but I learned very quickly that it was very much NOT good enough. While my vocabulary was decent and since I did study English in school since 4th grade, my English grammar was immaculate, I quickly learned there was an entire language I had to discover. As a matter of fact, a whole set of languages. And all of them in English.
It seems that every time we immerse ourselves, whether by choice or not, into a new area of interest, field, hobby, activity we need to learn a whole new language.
My daughter was recently hospitalized for a week. Raspatory issues, lungs, short of breath, vomiting and such. Immediate thought was COVID of course but after numerous tests it was definitely not COVID. So, they told me they need to call a….pulmonologist.
Hold your horses I told them. Stop everything you’re doing and nobody moves until….
1. I find out what a pulmonologist is
2. I learn how to say it three times straight.
(PUL-muh-NAH-loh-jist) A doctor who has special training in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lungs. Also called pulmonary specialist.
You see, when we enter a world that is not ours, we need to learn many things about this world including its language. And since the language is the roadmap of the culture, once you understand the language of this new world you will be able to better understand the culture, the people of that world, their habits, their challenges and more.
My recent visit to Home-Depot sounded something like:
Me: Excuse me sir, can you help me please?
Home Depot Sir: Sure, how can I help you?
Me: Well, I have a leak in my thing in the shower and I am looking for some sort of a rubber ring to fit in that weird thing under my thing so I can stop the leak.
Home Depot Sir:
Home Depot Sir:
Me: Do you think my English teacher ever taught me about plumbing?? Hang on, let me pull out google and show you some pictures.
I am still discovering new worlds with new languages based on my current needs. If I need a specific tool to fix something, if my daughter is in the hospital or if my son texts me “bet” after I texted I will pick him up at 4 from practice and I wasn’t sure he wants to bet I will make it on time or simply saying….that’s awesome dad. New languages all the time.
Got me thinking. Isn’t it the same when we develop relationships with new customers? Aren’t we supposed to invest time and effort to understand THEIR world and learn THEIR language so we can better service and cater to their needs? So our relationship is based on a deeper connection?
Was on a call with a customer the other day. Me, as the consultant, the sales guy and the Customer Success Manager (CSM) from my customer side and 3 people from their customer side. This is an existing customer for them, who has been a loyal customer for about 2 years. This was a sort of a QBR call (Quarterly Business Review) but also an introduction call for the new Customer Success Manager who is replacing the former CSM who left for another job.
Now, the new CSM being introduced on this call, has been at her role for about 3.5 years dealing primarily with small/medium size customers. This customer is in the printing business. Commercial printing. Their main objective for this call is to plan a specific project they are planning. Some really cool innovative project. The technology my customer has sold them and implemented for them helps this printing business guys manage the efficiency of their huge printers. Something like a quality control technology for commercial printers.
Intros go well, good vibes, it’s clear why customers love her. About 10 minutes in and they, the printing folks, start describing their needs for this project and claim their biggest challenge is with their VDP. They just go off explaining how the VDP is about 40% of the production of these massive printers but if they modify the settings as our software indicated the KO’s will be unreasonable.
Then, at that very moment, one of the printing company guys asks if we could take a few minutes break as they got called into an important side conversation. Of course, we accommodate their request and waited.
And then, as we are on a holding pattern I see this text message on my phone from our new CSM: ” what’s VDP and what do they mean by a KO????????”.
”Google it!” I replied (and next time take your time to understand their language ahead of time I was thinking in my head).
Too many customer relations folks I work with don’t take the time to get to know their customers. Not only on a personal level but also on the corporation level, the business level. Think of it as the corporate Emotional Relevance. Just like you should look up the person you are communicating with on social media to learn about their hobbies, university they attended, volunteer work and other in order to make this relationship a more meaningful one, you should do the same for the company. Look up their LinkedIn corporate page, their twitter account. Search on Hoovers, Zoom Info, D and B, datafinity.com or at the very least….Google it. Understand their market, their competition, their challenges in the last few years, management team, it’s all out there. You do not need to get into the weeds, but at the very least, learn their language, their terms, their acronyms, jargons, their marketing messages, their brand positioning.
Thank god my daughter is fine. The only other good thing that came out of her being hospitalized for a week is that I now know what a Pulmonologist is. And even though it took me 2 weeks of practice, I now can even say it three times straight.