Emotion has always been an essential part of the vital and valuable connections between brands and customers and between business leaders and employees. But in times like today, when the coronavirus has caused anxiety to rise and physical interaction to fade, an emotional connection is even more important. If you are able to make an emotional connection virtually, you will stand out, gain people’s trust, and be remembered long after the crisis is over.
The bulk of making an emotional connection is about how you communicate, but communication also needs to be supported by action. Here’s how you, as a brand and / or business owner, can connect emotionally with your customers and employees even when you are physically separated from them.
Empathy. Communicate and show empathy.
You have to show people that you understand how they may be feeling. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield share his emotions in a series of Consciousness Tweets last week. In his messages were heartfelt messages such as: “The last few weeks have been [emojis showing exploding head, flushed face, crying face]”And” I am a human. I’m worried about my family … ”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tried to establish common ground and share his emotions with his employees in a letter. He admitted, “I’m sad…” and “My list of concerns right now – like yours, I’m sure – is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to your safety, my colleagues… “
Gregg Renfrew, CEO of Beautycounter, translated his empathy into action. As stated in the New York Times, she admitted that “everyone was feeling a little tired”. So she told the company’s employees to take the day off on Friday. “We all have to figure out how to handle it all,” she said. “Then we can come back and get down to business. “
The key to empathy is listening and learning. Merriam webster defines empathy as “the act of understanding, being aware, being sensitive and experiencing vicariously the feelings, thoughts and experience of another in the past or present without the feelings, thoughts and experience being fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. “(emphasis added.)
This means you need to read between the lines and seek to truly understand your customers and employees. And that, in turn, means you need to actively seek their feedback and invite them to share their feelings, stories, even questions. Too many business leaders and marketing managers seem more concerned with sending messages to employees and customers respectively, than soliciting their input. Chobani Chairman Peter McGuinness spent a recent morning help the company’s partner grocery stores pack the products. This not only showed her support and respect for her clients, but also allowed her to learn firsthand what they are dealing with.
Transparency. Communicate transparently and honestly, even when it can hurt.
Now is not the time for empty assurances and bad news. Customers and employees deserve to be informed of reality so that they can formulate precise expectations. Even when the information may seem negative or unfavorable, people are more likely to trust you if you are transparent and open.
In his letter, Bezos wrote: “… I predict things will get worse before they get better.” He also explained that the company had placed orders for “millions of face masks that we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home” – but he reported that “very few of those orders have been executed ”. While others may have felt the need to encourage or gloss over this information, Bezos chose to be realistic and informative.
Butterfield was equally honest. After acknowledging his fiduciary responsibility to investors and analysts by saying, “Our job right now is to help others predict our future,” he tweeted, “… we literally have no idea what’s going to happen and neither does anyone else, really. He extended his transparency to Slack customers by writing, “If you’re new to Slack, I’m sorry, there are still issues. It’s not as easy to get used to as we would like.
When natural and organic online retailer Thrive Market realized that due to the increase in orders, customers could expect deliveries of up to two weeks to be delayed, it didn’t not buried the information or waited to inform customers until after they had already gone far enough. throughout the buying process. It posted the message in a pop-up window in the front and center of its homepage. Additionally, despite the revenue risk, the company has instructed its members to keep orders under $ 100 and consider waiting to place an order if they have already done so in the past two years. last few weeks. CEO and Co-Founder Nick Green said Supermarket news this response from customers has been positive, noting that their understanding “has been a humbling display of solidarity”.
Personality. Show your humanity and your uniqueness.
Just because you need to convey factual information doesn’t mean you need to follow a generic pattern. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and add lightness, even a little humor, if that fits your brand.
Like many other retailers, Chubby, a men’s shorts retailer, sent customers a virus response email – but unlike most, it made sure the message conveyed some personality. The opening line, “Exactly what you hoped for, an email from another company on COVID-19,” reflected the fun and light nature of all its communication, Drip.com reported.
The sandwich chain Ike’s Love & Sandwiches applied their cheeky brand personality in offer a free roll of toilet paper with every sandwich order. An advertisement promoting the offer sported a slogan that is sure to stand out and be shared: “We have your back (side). “Like other savvy brands, the company knows that every touchpoint – even in the midst of a crisis – is an opportunity to do something different, creative and even valuable for customers.
Even business leaders can allow themselves to communicate a serious message with humor. Celebrity chef and restaurant mogul José Andrés recently published a video in which he and his daughters made fried rice while playing a song from the Hamilton soundtrack. Using songs, laughs and fun quick cooking antics, the video allowed Andrés to pay “tribute” to the Chinese people who “went through a lot of hardship and conquer this virus” and strengthen one of their central philosophies. – that leftover food can be reused and not wasted.
Even if your brand – personal or corporate – is more low-key, why be boring when you can be memorable ?!
Making an emotional connection is important because people – customers and employees – are emotional beings. We identify with others who connect with us emotionally – and we trust them more.
As the coronavirus requires quarantines and physical isolation, many brands and business leaders are finding it difficult to convey emotions through digital devices and online channels. But even after the pandemic has passed, it is likely that digital communication will be more widespread than before. The amenities people now enjoy mean more employees will work from home, more buyers will buy online, and more customers will use delivery services. So now is the time to show empathy, transparency and personality and make emotional connections that strengthen your relationships with customers and employees in the future.