By Mariann B. Snyder, CCEP
Global Compliance Communications Lead
I fell for it. I bought a car over the weekend and let myself be suckered into a deal to protect the paint and leather. I brought the car in today for the “protection” appointment. I pulled in to the bay marked “service” at the dealership. And then I was met with stuff I didn’t understand.
First, a kid wearing a Service jacket told me I was “supposed to be over there” – another lane 3 feet away. I entered one of two doors which both had a very large SERVICE ENTRANCE sign above them. One of them also said “WRITE UP,” and the other, I later noticed, had a small “Do Not Enter” sign well below SERVICE ENTRANCE.
When a serviceman finally helped me (despite the “correct” lane being a few feet to my left), I told him what I came in for.
“Oh, that’s all through Sales,” he said.
“Is there a difference?” asked I.
“We don’t do that here. Sales does that.”
He repeated this line a couple of times to try to break through my idiocy.
Sales makes a service appointment for me, but the scheduled service doesn’t happen in Service? I made a quick trip from feeling stupid to being a little annoyed.
As I’m waiting for my car (which is presumably in some non-Service service area right now), I can’t help but think how often we in Compliance speak a language that the people we are trying to serve don’t understand. They don’t live in our world, so our jargon is foreign to them. Things that make perfect sense to us, thanks to training and experience, might as well be Klingon to them.
This year, let’s resolve to use plain language with our business people and each other. Speaking jargon to those who need our “services” won’t make them believe you’re super smart – but it might make them feel super stupid. Don’t we want the opposite? Empowerment for people to make the best decisions, to do the right things, to live up to our company values.
The next time a business person comes to you for compliance “service,” stop yourself before you say that their course of action might lead to an antitrust violation or FCPA charge. Picture that the person who has come to you for help is a 10-year old. Then explain the problem, and the solution, simply. Not condescendingly. Being able to explain it simply is the real evidence that you know your stuff and equips that person with tools to make their own best decisions. And that’s our real service.