6 or Half a Dozen: Communicating customer’s needs

6 or half a dozen. Is there a difference? How does knowing the difference between 6 and half a dozen relate to understanding and communicating customers’ needs??

Let me share a real-life experience with you.

So, there is this woman that sells food close to my workplace. Her swallow is nice, and she is quite generous with her soup.

One day, I was in the mood to eat plenty. So, I asked her for extra Eba, so that the soup will not waste. Iya Calabar said she does not sell extra Eba; only extra plates. But I didn’t want to add an extra plate to my order, I wanted only extra Eba. Unsatisfied, I paid for my order and went my way.

Whenever I went there, (even on days when I felt like eating extra Eba), I stuck to requesting only one plate. And Iya Calabar stuck to giving me one plate.

I didn’t really give anybody this gist in the office because I really didn’t see the need to.

Then one day, my colleague, totally ignorant of my encounter with Iya Calabar goes there to buy food and came back with a gist.

The summary of her gist was that the person that bought food before her, bought an ‘extra plate’, and Iya Calabar gave the person extra Eba, and more soup. And all the person had to pay was the price of extra Eba.

It’s confusing abi?? The thing confused me too.

So, I told her to explain again, and she said the only thing the person paid was money for extra Eba but got soup. (This was not really the theme of her gist, but this is the part that concerned me).

Wait!!!! But I had tried to pay for only eba with that same amount, and she didn’t sell to me. Why?? I didn’t even want soup, just eba.

I thought she was joking, So I went to try it. This time, I asked for an ‘extra plate’ instead of ‘extra Eba’. And guess what?? I got extra eba and soup while paying the amount for only eba.

I don’t even know how to explain the maths, but that’s what her business offers. And it’s not an error.

So, what was the difference between me asking for ‘extra eba’ which she said she doesn’t sell, and me asking for ‘extra plate’, which she sold with joy??

You can identify the answer if you can figure out the difference between 6 and half a dozen.

In your business, your customers not understanding your in-house language can cost you sales. You keep sending emails to your customers, telling them about ‘recurring monthly payment’, but what they understand is ‘subscription’ or ‘monthly payment’.

You are right, and they are right, but you both don’t understand each other. And until something happens to bring both parties to a common understanding, the buyer keeps looking at your product with interest, but can’t buy. And you keep hoping that the customer will buy.

Now, it’s totally understandable that you can’t read all your customer’s minds, and on the other hand, industry jargon cannot be totally avoided.

So, what’s the way forward?? What can be done to make communicating customers’ needs more effective??

Looking back at my Iya Calabar experience, it would have made a lot of difference if we understood each other a bit more. You know, maybe a follow-up question, explaining what an extra plate is, etc. These would have enabled me to make a buying decision.

So as a business owner, try to explain!! It’s okay to ‘over communicate’ sometimes. Try to make your sales letters, ads, etc as idiot-proof as possible. You could be heavily marketing ‘6’ and a customer trying to buy ‘half a dozen keeps hovering around your product and saying, I would have bought this if it was ‘6’.

How can this be fixed?

Communicating customers’ needs effectively.

Listed below are ways and steps that can be taken to ensure that communicating customers’ needs is as effective as possible. Effective communication enhances understanding which in this case can increase sales.

1. Explain your product to your customers:

Let them know that 6 can also be called half a dozen. You can illustrate with pictures, by providing more details of the product to the customers.

For example, during my first encounter with Iya Calabar, when I asked for ‘extra eba’, she told me, we don’t sell extra eba, we sell extra plate. And the extra plate is extra eba + extra soup, and we sell it at XYZ amount, I would have gotten it. Because it was still within my budget. And even if it was a little above my budget, I would have still gotten it. Or made plans for it next time. It would have been a better approach than her holding my plate staring at me in the eye and saying, ‘we don’t sell extra eba’.

Explaining to your customers clarifies to them that you both are actually on the same page. They get to understand that you’re offering them the same thing in a different language.

2. Ask your customers what they want?

Create a feedback form. Do a survey, any means possible to hear from them. Let them explain their problem in their own words then you can be able to understand customers’ needs better and recommend fitting products to them. For instance, let’s look at a case of someone trying to buy 12 and doesn’t think your product ‘6’ can ever be a good fit. Hearing them explain what they need gives you an idea of their need. Now, you can say, “Based on your need, you don’t need just one ‘6’. You need to get two of these ‘6’, to  attain the ’12’ you desire.”

3. Give them options that would most likely lead them to the same answer:

We had this priest who used to jokingly say ‘true or yes’ when he asked certain questions. Half the church would chorus yes, and the other half would chorus true, with different answers, but at the end of the day, we were saying the same thing. You could advertise your product as ‘6’ and also advertise it as ‘half a dozen. Let customers buy anyone they prefer.

4. As much as you can, use languages your customers can understand

In communicating customer’s needs, note that a customer trying to buy ‘6’ might not pay attention to a product that has ‘half a dozen on it. They might not even know it’s the same thing as half a dozen. As the seller, you should do your research and communicate in the language they understand.

Now that I have shared my experience with Its Calabar and the lesson learned, I will schedule a good day and have a one-on-one with her to understand why we had that miscommunication.

Would you want me to share her response with you??

While we wait for the day I will have a one-on-one with her, let me know your 6 and half a dozen experience. A time when two people were saying the same thing, but just getting confused because of the choice of words



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