Words matter: How titles can signal customer focus or not

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On one of my trips I was challenging a relatively small charge that was added to my hotel bill at the end.

It was listed as being for marketing services so of course I went to the front desk and asked what it was about and if they could please remove it.

Their response was that the director of revenue announced that charge last week. Of course, as a customer I could care less what was announced but I am wondering what it was for and why I would pay for marketing services.

They didn’t really have an explanation and eventually did remove it. Nonetheless, I still left a one-star review sharing this experience on one of the review sites. A while later they replied and said that this was a new mandatory local tax.

But nonetheless, they did remove it even though it was apparently mandatory.

So it may have been a communications issue but really it all starts from my perspective as the customer and as a change leadership implementer with the title of director of revenue.

See, we weren’t talking about the chief customer experience officer or chief customer service officer or something like that. We were talking about the director of revenue. And directors of revenue are charged with driving profits and not necessarily customer service or a customer communications.

They also typically have different goals. The director of revenue has revenue goals. The chief customer officer has customer experience goals.

As Kelsey Guetschow and I discuss in our customer focused book good customer service however does drive revenue.

We react to the titles that talk to us. For example, when a conference wants to talk to me, the titles matter as well.

If an account manager or business dev person calls they often will drag the conversation out to get me invested in the process. Then when they think I am, they’ll ask me to pay to speak. <Insert good exposure gobbledygook here.>

Read next: How to automagically use LinkedIn to prepare for meetings

If an event manager, coordinator or some title of that sort calls I know that they’re actually planning the program and there might be a chance that we can get to an agreement for me to speak.

Then of course we also have companies that give people titles that they think will open the doors to a quick(er) sale. For example, I’ve seen tactics were every sales person had the title of content strategist. Because see other content strategists want to talk to other content strategists because that’s how we learn things. But then what if that other content strategist is a sales person trying to sell you something. (Related Periscope blab here.)

And don’t get me wrong here. I know that companies need many different roles and skills to make it. But to be truly customer-focused we have to be sure to have the right roles publicly and authentically.

Get a paperback or Kindle version of our book on how to be customer-focused here. Available worldwide on Amazon.

Some of the companies I work with customers never talk to the finance people. They talk to customer service team members. When it’s a complicated content SaaS deal or strategy project the customers prospects want to talk to the director of sales strategy.

The point is that titles – and especially authentic ones – matter and people behave in line with them. They can help us be customer focused!