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The risk of we

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Referring to your website or app as "we" or "us", even when you're just "I" and "me" is such an easy trap to fall into. And once you start, that language finds itself everywhere — from emails, Twitter, even in system alerts.

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But such a small choice of words can have much bigger consequences — which I only learned after years of being guilty of this terrible habit. Put simply, it infers that you're a company... and users expect more from a company. Until this year, when you signed up to the app you would have received a welcome email from what appeared to be a company. Then, if something went wrong, you'd have emailed the support 'department'. Depending on the problem, you'd want immediate answers — and why wouldn't you, you're dealing with a company who pays support staff to look after you after all, right?

Wrong. The reality was, and is, that you're actually dealing 1-on-1 with the owner... and that solving your problem is literally the most important thing. But no-one knew that... by using the grand "we", the illusion of a faceless company was complete. By using "we", the tone is automatically set to a typical customer/company relationship.

Since changing the site and app to reflect a more personal touch, I've seen a considerable improvement in customer satisfaction. Now people know they're dealing with a real person — the conversations and feedback have been so much more rewarding, and when user satisfaction is up, that really makes those late nights and Sunday bug-fixing worthwhile.

So despite my initial concerns, users don't assume that being a one-man-show means an amateur support experience. In fact, quite the opposite.

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