The hashtag. The eighth wonder of the world. If you think not, think again. What other single character symbol means more and carries such huge implications. Our superhero, the four-line, four intersection, italicized friend.
To a technical newbie, our miraculous symbol represents Twitter or Instagram. To a mathematician the hashtag represents a number sign. To a singer/songwriter the hashtag is a sharp sign. To an older person in our society, the hashtag is no hashtag at all, but instead the "pound" button on a touchtone phone (if you're too young to know what a touchtone phone is, ask your mom). Three of the little fellas in a row represents the end of press release. Our friend, the hashtag has even found his way into the competitive world of online chess. Placing a hashtag at the end of your move represents checkmate. The list of hashtag uses goes on and on.
So, with so many potential meanings and representations, how can the hashtag possibly help us in business? It's all about perspective. We all get so focused on seeing the world though our "hashtag" that we may forget to see a solution to a customer's problem through their "hashtag."
Recently, I received an email from a friend of mine who lives in New York. She was telling me about a smoothie shop she often visits for a delicious and healthy midday snack. On a recent visit to enjoy a frozen beverage, she noticed a change in the recipe; she experienced more of a citrus flavor. When my friend inquired, stating she would love to have the option of having a citrus-free mixture, the barista simply said she would not be able to do that for her, adding "they (management) won't change it, even if I say something to them." Was the shop so focused on making smoothies their way that they forgot to take into account their customer's reaction to the change?
It's time for all of us to see the world through our customer's hashtag. When answering a customer's question, put on your customer's hashtag and get some perspective before trying to answer their question or resolving their problem. Your resolution may not be what's best for your customer. It may be the best solution to the problem from your perspective, but it may create more problems for your customer.
Keep perspective as you interact with others and you will find you are more relatable and people will have an easier time communicating with you. Your relationships will be much improved, all thanks to the hashtag.