During the process of getting to know a new client, and providing him with the early deliverables for his SEO campaign, he had a simple request. Could we meet in person instead of by phone to discuss the project progress to date, and give him some help understanding the ‘jargon’ we used in the reports?
Jargon? Upon reviewing his report, I saw that there are numerous places where we indicate that there is an action item associated with a particular section of the site, without fully explaining what or where the item in question resides or even if it can be seen by web visitors. Phrases like Title Tags, Meta Description, Image Alt Tags, and the like, each with an explanation of why they are important, and possibly how they need to change, but nowhere is there an explanation of exactly what they are and how or who will update them. Even more esoteric to a client are phrases like robots.txt and XML sitemap. Jargon, indeed!
I had to wonder how many of our other clients are having a similar head-scratching moment. Reports that we assumed were crystal clear contain new words and phrases with no real context clues to give them meaning. We tell clients all the time to avoid jargon on their websites and in their press releases, unless they are very sure that their target audience speaks their language. Hm. Time to practice what we preach.
It is often not easy to recognize this kind of missing data. In the process of moving to a more streamlined reporting system and making deliverables more responsive to the fast pace of the early part of a campaign, we have inadvertently “streamlined out” many of the explanations that populated earlier versions of these reports. After all, we know exactly what we mean. It is part of the human experience to see the parts that are not there when we know what they should be. We have all had the experience of proof reading our own document, only to have someone else point out a spelling or grammar error that we just couldn’t see because we knew what we meant to say.
This is one more phase in good customer service. Really listening to customers, finding their pain point and doing something to make it better is the right thing to do, and will create loyal fans out of customers. Of course they have hired us because we have experience with the intricacies of Search Engine Marketing and Website Design. We don’t need to baffle them with the words that define our world, when we can dazzle them with our ability to clearly explain what we are going to do for them and their business, and then impress them by doing it!
I am off to write a glossary to include with our reports. What are you doing today to clearly communicate with your clients?
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1238333