All of us have jargon that we use as shorthand in our business, but if we aren’t careful that can spoil over into our “communication” with our customers and prospects and be both confusing and counter-productive.
I like to call these jargon-driven acronyms “TLAs” (Three Letter Abbreviations) and while they are a valuable way of talking within the company, they are completely impenetrable to your customers and prospects and can create a communication barrier that makes it difficult for them to understand what you are saying.
The problem is that TLAs become so ingrained into the way you talk about things that there is a real temptation to use them in places where it is inappropriate. I also sometimes think that people think that using them makes them sound more important and knowledgeable….when the exact opposite is more likely to be the case.
When I ran my computer service company we used to do pre-contract site inspections to make sure that the equipment list that the client had given us matched the equipment they actually had on their site that we would be maintaining. For some reason I never fathomed, this got shortened to “Pre-Site Inspection” and then some bright spark came up with the TLA “PSI”.
The next thing you know, we start telling our new clients that we will have to come out for a PSI, and they have no idea what we are talking about. Worse, when we explained what we meant, the explanation sounded important but it didn’t actually even make sense!
This is an insidious problem that can easily sneak into any organization. One of the best ways to root it out is to look at all your legal agreements and marketing materials and make sure that no TLAs have crept in while your back was turned. Take a good look at your website too….for some reason they seem even more prevalent there and it can become TLA central if you aren’t careful.