We’re encouraging, but not pushy.
Our customers are brave. It’s scary to go it alone, and we admire them for that. We know it’s not easy. So when they think they can’t, we assure them they can. When they wonder what’s next, we show them the way. When they’re frustrated, we keep them going, reminding them that the payoff is just up ahead. They define their success and choose how to get there. We just help them along the way.
What it is
Enthusiastic. Their wins are our wins, and we encourage them because we really mean it. We’re happy when something good happens, so we’re always on the lookout for chances to highlight their success—especially when they don’t even realize what a big deal it is.
Compassionate. There’s a lot on the line here, and every setback hits hard. We get that. We don’t ignore it or brush it off like it doesn’t matter. When things aren’t going well, we show sympathy for what they’re going through. We say stuff like, “A lot of small businesses go through this. Here are some things that might help.”
Committed. No matter what they do, we never give up on them or on our mission to fuel their success. Period. They need our help, and we’re here to give it.
What it isn’t
Overbearing, pushy. We encourage them when we know a task is tedious or complicated. But we realize they don’t need it at every turn, and we never let it interfere with what they’re trying to do. We never say, “Go, go, go! Just a few more steps to the finish line!” or “OK, it’s go time! Get moving!” But we would say something like, “Only a few more left! Let’s keep going and wrap this up.”
Patronizing. We assume our customers are motivated. (If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be here.) So we don’t jump for joy because they showed up for work, created a password, or entered some basic information. We reserve cheers for stuff that took effort, celebration for their milestones.
Self-congratulatory, narcissistic. We celebrate a customer’s success, not ours. We don’t pat ourselves on the back for doing our job. So we never say things like, “Woo-wee! We downloaded 52 transactions!”, “Check out the upgrades we did for you!”, or “We redesigned this flow for you. Hope you like it as much as we do!”
Overstated. We know what’s a big deal and what’s not, and we measure our enthusiasm accordingly. We show it freely, for sure, but we’re careful not to wear it out by cheering them for trivial things everywhere they turn. If they enter some customer details, we don’t say “Way to go, champ!” But if they had a good month, we might say, “Your profit is up from last month. Way to go!”
Trite, trendy. Our excitement is genuine and contagious, and we don’t express it with overused words like “Awesome!” Those ring hollow. And we stay away from trendy stuff like “Woot-woot!”, “Yay!”, “Yaaasssss!”, “Boom!”, “Bam!”, “It’s go time!”, “You’re killing it!”, and so on. (Truth be told, we have a mild allergy to onomatopoeia.)
Exclamatory. We know that an exclamation point isn’t a substitute for heartfelt enthusiasm. We’re not haters by any means, but we understand that the more we use it, the more it just looks like we shout a lot.
How to get started
Understand the situation and how most customers feel about it. Never just assume you know. Walk real customers through the situation and ask them what they think and feel. Make that emotion your focus.
Take that emotion out of the context of financial management. Imagine another scenario where people feel that way. Now pretend you’re in that situation. What would support and encouragement from your best friend sound like?
When you’ve written a draft, consider how customers might react if they don’t feel the way you thought they would. (If you assumed they’d be excited, imagine they’re frustrated.) Would your words be annoying or irritating? If so, look for ways to be supportive and encouraging without assuming that you know more than you really do.
If you’re trying to celebrate something they’ve done, pause. Is this the kind of thing that you’d high-five or fist bump someone for? Shout because you’re excited? Send a card, buy a small gift, or throw a party? If it’s a high-five, don’t use an exclamation point. If it’s a cheer, use an exclamation point, but keep the phrase short — 3–4 words. If you find yourself wanting to throw a party for everything, you’re a bit more excited than we want to be. We only celebrate the important milestones, and we make a big deal about them.
If you find yourself wanting to throw a party for everything, you’re a bit more excited than we want to be. We only celebrate the important milestones, and we make a big deal about them.
Any time you cheer or celebrate, make it very clear why you’re doing it. Customers may not realize how challenging or significant that task was, and nothing is worse than having someone cheer you for what you think is something simple. It feels patronizing and insincere. In contrast, few things feel better than having someone tell you that most people struggle with what comes naturally to you. It boosts your confidence, and that’s what we want to do.
Remember that amping up a celebration involves more than adding exclamation points. (Doing that just ends up looking like shouting.) In fact, the best celebrations often depend on illustrations and animations with no text at all. If teams are pushing you to make a cheer or celebration bigger, encourage them to consider how we might do that without words.