Aside from the coronavirus, communication is a vital part of everyday business, whether that maybe with your team or customers.
Whenever you are communicating any sort of information, it’s important to be aware of your delivery method, and the potential consequences it may have on certain people. At the end of the day, we are all different.
In regards to the situation surrounding COVID-19, some people may have lost loved ones, suffering from mental illness that’s manifesting during the lockdown, or they could even working on the front line, saving lives and experiencing the impact of this disease first hand - you can’t just assume everyone’s relaxing at home.
Although some may view this as a form of vacation or a time to binge-watch Netflix, the majority of people shouldn’t have to deal with light-hearted jokes or inconsiderate content surrounding the crisis.
That’s why you NEED to show empathy.
Empathy is sometimes misunderstood and considered a form of understanding towards something you don’t actually care about.
This is not entirely false, but to effectively communicate empathy you have to enter the mind of another, and truly experience their feelings and perspective to understand what they are going through. This could be done by relating to a past event, but it all starts with listening.
Every situation is different, we don’t doubt it, but by using our 5 point structure, you can adapt and successfully show empathy:
1) Open ears
Given the current climate, people are bombarded with information from the mainstream media, social media, and the worst, word of mouth. A combination of all these sources can lead to false facts that ignite fear and make people scared. Simply listening to what your customers have to say can lift a huge weight off their chest.
Listening is a great place to start, but sometimes people listen to what they are saying out loud and it all gets too much. Introducing a sense of relatability or reassurance, like “you’re not alone” or “it’s ok to feel this way”, will put your audience’s mind at rest.
3) Take action
You can talk the talk all you want, but nothing will show your understanding like taking action. Let’s say your customers are constantly reaching out for support, but you can’t handle all of the inquiries, why not create a Facebook group for your community to support each other through this crisis.
Many companies have adapted as much as possible including allowing their teams to work remotely and conduct meetings online. Working around the crisis and adapting to change is far more effective than dwelling on the negatives.
4) Utilize your resources
We are extremely lucky to have the internet and various online platforms that we can utilize during this crisis, but some businesses still fail to do so. Even if you are a course-based business, normally relying on face-to-face interaction, take it online and run virtual courses in the meantime.
Aside from online solutions, businesses like Garden Centres are combating the crisis with home deliveries, allowing them to survive and keep their customers happy.
There is no specific solution that will work for every business, but offering an alternative service to your customers will keep them engaged with your business and allow you to stay active through the crisis.
Now I am going to say that you have probably received an email from lots of different companies all saying the same thing, along the lines of “Our response to COVID-19”. Sending another customer one of these emails could lead to your customers unsubscribing from your mailing list without even reading it, which is a risk you don’t want to take.
It’s best to assess the situation within your industry and choose the right distribution method for you.
Although we mentioned a lot of businesses sending out repetitive emails and being inconsiderate towards those affected by the coronavirus, some have done an outstanding job at showing empathy.
The airline industry has arguably suffered the largest hit from the coronavirus, with lockdown restrictions forcing people to stay at home and only travel on essential trips.
One of the latest airlines in the work, Delta, provided their customers with an email clarifying their plan of action.
According to Delta, they will be flying a total of 7 transatlantic and transpacific routes, due to the apparent ‘customer demand’, and as you can imagine, people are more germ conscious than ever.
Nevertheless, in Ed Bastin’s email (CEO of Delta) he states in immense detail the health and safety precautions each flight will be taking to ensure their passenger’s wellbeing. Addressing the relevant concerns for most customers is key to keeping engagement levels high.
Now that customers are given peace of mind, an offering is made. Delta is providing flexible change and cancellation policies to cope with the crisis, but they go one scratch further and make the scenario personal.
“While we’re committed to providing you with information you need to make informed decisions around your travel, we also understand the need for flexibility based on your individual circumstances”
The soul factor aside from Delta successfully meeting the 5 empathy criteria, is personality. Even though this email has been sent to Delta’s entire customer base, it’s addressed to each recipient directly, with subtle hints throughout.
But who is supporting the businesses?
KPMG is who. Instead of sending out an email every week, with industry advice and suggested next steps, they are holding a live webinar every week with industry professionals from a diverse number of fields.
Hosting a live webinar gives other business owners and industry professionals the opportunity to chat, listen, and sympathize with each other’s struggles.
Now, this could result in a negative environment full of complaints, however, KPMG is offering advice moving further into the pandemic, helping businesses survive through these hard times.
It is a constructive solution that promotes a positive attitude moving forward.
The situation that we are all faced with at the moment is unpredictable, meaning the strategy that one business adopts might not work for another.
Our objective is to provide as much useful information surrounding the coronavirus, how to protect your business, and optimize your marketing, as possible so you can forge a unique solution that suits you best.
One thing is for sure, don’t underestimate the power of social media or any content you publish online, it can come back and bite you. Make sure to be conscious of your customer’s situation and approach this crisis in a sensitive manner.