Podcast

Start Speaking Your Customer’s Language

Eric Crane

Posted 11/17/2020

Miscommunication can be deadly. It can be deadly to your customer success initiatives, the growth of your business, and your brand’s reputation.

So, how do you avoid miscommunication and get on the same page with your customers? Start speaking their language.

Leigh Hamer, Director of Customer Success at Lumavate, has encountered some of the same communication challenges many organizations face and she recently shared some tips on how to craft effective customer messaging with us.

The Foundation of Good Customer Communication

"Good communication is the foundation of success in any role." — Leigh Hamer

First and foremost, good communication is the bedrock of any successful initiative whether it’s internal or external. It sets the stage for what’s to come by managing expectations and ensuring all goals are aligned.

“Think about your interpersonal relationships with your colleagues, your vendors, your own customers that you deal with,” says Leigh. “Clear communication makes that relationship grow and thrive so that you can avoid the strife and confusion that happens when there’s miscommunication.”

Focus on the Main Points

Leigh has a background in PR and she brings insights from that arena into the customer success realm.

One example: in a previous position, part of her job included writing executive summaries. 

The purpose of executive summaries is to boil down large swaths of information into bite-sized bits — the key takeaways that are most important for the executive to know. They are a function of the idea that executives don’t have much time to read complete reports.

Nowadays, most people simply don’t have the time to read over tons of information. And that includes your customers. 

So, Leigh applies the same idea to customer communication. She asks herself questions like:

  • How much time will they actually have to read this email? 

  • How much time will they actually have to look at that powerpoint presentation?

  • What’s the most efficient and effective way to get them to see and understand what I need them to see and understand?

And then she will tailor the communication with those considerations in mind.

Delivering the Message

When we hear people talk about good communication, there are many buzzwords that get thrown about — transparent communication, clear communication, straightforward communication. 

But what does it actually mean to deliver good communication?

“It means there is honesty, but there’s a little jujitsu going on with it,” says Leigh. To put it another way, she means that good communication is sometimes about flipping the narrative so that a negative becomes a positive — it becomes an opportunity.

Take the client-vendor relationship, for example. In its basic form, it’s merely a transactional relationship. But according to Leigh, you can frame it as a partnership so that it transforms into a more dynamic relationship. The resulting opportunity is relationship growth that benefits both parties. 

Building Trust

It comes down to an issue of trust.

So, in her customer communications, she works to gain the trust of her clients so that they bring her into their strategic planning sessions. She demonstrates the value she can bring if she is privy to those insights. 

She informs them that knowing their business inside and out will give her the ability to look ahead and see if there are any upcoming impediments to their growth or the success of their initiatives.

Delivering Negative Feedback

Of course, in a partnership, you may find occasions where you need to deliver negative feedback to your clients. 

So how do you do that without damaging the relationship?

Leigh has a story for that.

She had a mentor who taught her how to edit. Together, they were in charge of editing the directors of the organization. What struck Leigh as genius was that her mentor would always edit these documents with a pencil rather than a red pen. Since it was done in pencil, the feedback never came off as harsh to them.

Leigh constantly thinks about that when she needs to deliver negative feedback to customers. She always aims to do it in a way that doesn’t insult them or put them in a defensive position. 

How does she do that?

She engages with the client and frames the feedback as an enemy they can vanquish together so that they are able to achieve mutual goals. 

It goes back to presenting the relationship as a partnership — impressing upon the customer that we’re in this together and we can both benefit from the changes that need to be made.

Case Study: Lumavate

"We measure success by how easy our platform and solutions are for customers to use." — Leigh Hamer

Lumavate, Leigh’s company, is a low-code platform for marketers that allows them to build simple apps with little to no coding knowledge.

Because their customers can and do build anything they want, it can be hard to define customer success. Ultimately, they settled on measuring how easy the platform is to use for their customers by collecting customer feedback.

Recently, they took that feedback and redesigned the app with a focus on fixing areas where people were getting hung up or spending more time than they needed to.

So, how did she go about communicating the changes to the app to their customers?

Communicating Changes

"The visual appeal of your platform cannot be overlooked. When people see it, it should seem welcoming, not intimidating." — Leigh Hamer

It started with an overhaul of the messaging on the website. That ensured that it would sound consistent to both existing customers and new customers heading to the website.

Next, they went about contacting all existing customers using email, meetings, and phone calls. Their main message: “The fundamental building blocks that you are accustomed to and have become very acquainted with in the platform are still there. They’re just in different places.”

New can be scary to many customers. So Leigh’s goal was to allay customer concerns by demonstrating that everything they were used to was still there, it was just better.

The visual design played a role in supporting that message of familiarity. In the redesign, they aimed to make it simple and welcoming, rather than overly complex and intimidating.

Other Tactics Leigh’s Team Used

  • Hosted one-on-one meetings with customers to continue building the relationship and addressing concerns

  • Determined which features they could never get rid of because it would alienate the customer base and avoided altering those

  • Gave customers the freedom to use the platform however they wanted, but also made a “safe space” available that contained templates, training, and other resources to help them if they needed it

Leigh Hamer, Director of Customer Success at Lumavate, shares her strategy for crafting communication dependent on the receiver in this episode of Customer Success Leader.

Additionally, we dive in and talk about:

  • Measuring success based on your platform’s ease-of-use

  • Mitigating the scariness of new updates

  • How Leigh has been accounting for a new customer profile

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Podcast quote from Leigh Hamer

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