Does your customer actually understand what you sell?

Hands up if you know what a flat white consists of? What about what a customer experience management cloud platform is? Or if you know the difference between a A10 Fusion chip and an A11 Bionic chip?

If you do know the answer to them all, do you think all your customers might know the answers?

Can you remember the first time you walked into a Starbucks and you looked up at the menu board and saw a range of maybe twenty types of coffee and thought to yourself ‘What do all these things these mean? Maybe I’ll just order a black coffee for now and see what others are having and try and figure it out.”

I’m still a bit like that now, even though I’ve drunk thousands of cups of coffees, in coffee shops around the world. Some of the terminology used is just alien to me and the coffee shops are doing very little to help me understand what it is that they are selling.

Maybe I’d actually like drinking a ‘Flat White’ more than my “Americano”, but I’m not willing to just dive in and try it. I might not like it because there are some ingredients in coffees that I don’t like. However, if I did decide I liked it then the coffee shop could be earning an extra $1 from me every time I have a drink.

How hard would it be to provide some kind of description of the product to help me understand, or just call them what they are instead of an indistinct name? If I was told I’d be buying an espresso topped with steamed milk then I might decide I wanted an espresso topped with steamed milk, because I understand the components of the product and can determine what the benefits for me are, and importantly understand any downsides.

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I’m just using coffee as an example, but I can guarantee that in your business you’re using some terminology that means absolutely nothing to the people you want to talk to. It might be how you describe the type of cleaning you do to carpets, or the treatment you provide to make finger nails stronger, or how your software will make the sales transaction at the till that bit more efficient, but you’ll have dressed up the language to make it sound better or referenced the technical term that’s used in the industry but not by the general public.

Yes, there are some occasions when sounding complicated has a benefit for your business, because you want to come across as subject matter expert, but there are many more occasions when this isn’t the case.

There are a few approaches that you can use when looking at simplifying the language you use with your products, such as trying to focus on benefits and not features, as well as considering the language you’d use when describing it to your child / parent, but they all boil down to keeping it simple and avoid jargon.

Do any of your products or product descriptions include language that isn’t obviously understood by someone with no prior knowledge?

Written by

Helping people kick start their product management career at gettingstartedinproduct.com * Product person at Watchfinder

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