The way we talk not only represents who we are but also influences what we might turn into. This is not just true for individuals but also for organizations. The vocabulary that is used within an organization is a mirror of the organizations culture.
How would the focus in your organization change, if your corporate vocabulary is dominated by words and associations from either competitors, shareholder value or customers? If you talk about your customers all the time, your focus tends to shift on customers and through this you could take a big step in getting closer to your customers.
With this in mind it is interesting to see a blog post by Ian Sefferman, a former Amazon employee, about the use of the word customer experience at Amazon.
Customer obsession is the single most important asset you can have as a company.
Every second of every day you should be able to know exactly why you are working on whatever it is you are working on and how that helps the customer. What about it makes their life easier and their experience with your company better?
I worked as a software developer on the Email Platform team. That meant, among other things, we were responsible for sending massive amounts of marketing and transactional mail to customers. Obviously, not all customers find this to be the greatest experience, so it was particularly important for our team to ensure that we did not send spam, and we targeted each mail directly to those customers who would be interested in receiving the mail. The words “customer experience” were perhaps two of the most uttered words on our team each and every day.
The implications for your business
Reflecting on your corporate vocabulary and how it is used could provide valuable insights about the real focus in your organization. Is your organization focused on itself and communication is mostly about your organization, its products, management and processes or do you focus on the customer and actually mirror this in your language? Is your organization’s vocabulary focused on preserving the status quo or on shaping the future? If you want to change your corporate culture, how would you need to change the language that is used in your organization?
I think it would be very interesting to do a analysis of documents, emails and other communication in an organization to identify the degree of customer orientation and customer focus. Doing this with a longitudinal analysis one might get an interesting measurement tool about change within an organization.
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