Connecting with your customers is more important than ever right now. You may be working hard to craft email updates and other key messages. But if your language and tone don’t resonate with your customers’ needs and concerns, all your hard work may be getting ignored.
How can you help ensure your communications get the attention and action they need?
Through challenging times and business as usual — being extra careful about what you say and how you say it can make a meaningful difference.
Here are three key strategies for creating empathetic, customer-focused communications that are more likely to get noticed.
1. Subject line: Include “why to care”
Your customers are deluged with emails every day, so you’ve got a lot of competition for their attention. Even your own company may be reaching out to customers more frequently about important changes as you navigate the Covid crisis. That’s why it’s critical to consider that most people “triage” emails that look important or highly relevant, usually based on subject line.
Emails with a generic or vague subject line (e.g., “Update from CompanyX“) may get ignored because there’s no urgency, or no personal payoff to entice them. Your customers might be missing something important, but they may never know, or find out too late.
What to do
Up to 50% higher open rates when email subject lines are personalized.
- Infuse a compelling action or win into the subject line e.g., “Complete your application: Need more info by ” or “Bob, Need more control over your money?“
- Keep it brief, yet clearly state how the message is useful to the customer. If it’s a follow-up email or part of a chain, vary the subject lines so each message stands out as distinctive.
- Write the subject line after you’ve finalized the email message, so it’s easier to capture the key takeaway in a few words.
Why it matters
Suppose you need customers to respond to an important call to action. If you don’t create any urgency in the subject line, they may skip that email, requiring you to spend more time and cost on multiple follow-ups until you get a response. Or, you might proceed with a change or new process, and when customers find out about it, they feel caught unaware, and flood your call center with questions and complaints.
2. Talk like a real person, not a robot
Too often, companies think in terms of products, functions, and policies – and that comes out in the way they communicate to customers. It’s understandable you want to appear “professional” and a voice of authority, but you don’t want to risk sounding condescending or unapproachable. Your goal is to make people feel comfortable, confident, and reassured about doing business with you.
What to do
To inspire people to read your communications, think about when you’re a customer… What makes a good experience stand out for you? What gets your attention and makes you take action? What helps you feel like you’re talking with a trusted friend or advisor?
84% of consumers feel that experiences are as important as the actual products and services.
- Translate those qualities into every communication, using a friendly, conversational tone.
- Use clear, easy-to-understand language that’s free of overly formal language, tech-speak, or industry jargon.
- Read your communications aloud to make sure they sound natural, and fix any awkward wording.
Why it matters
Your customers may come to you because it serves practical needs, but if they don’t like the experience, you may be in trouble. Eventually they will find a company that meets the same needs, yet talks to them in ways that make them feel understood and valued.
That’s even more critical in these days of volatility. Infusing more empathy and humanness into your communications helps build the emotional connection that leads to lasting customer relationships.
3. Focus on them, not you
73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations (but only 51% feel that companies do that).
Look at one of your typical customer communications and count how many sentences begin with “we.” Or that lead with talking about products, services, or features – and then later mention how customers benefit. While people may care about your great offerings to meet specific needs – that’s not their bottom line.
Your tactical excellence is important, but what people really want to know is how your offerings improve their quality of life. Easier, faster, better, cheaper. They want to know those benefits upfront – because those qualities inspire the emotional experience they’re looking for. And that emotion often drives purchase decisions and ongoing engagement.
What to do
- Focus on the first thing you want customers to feel when they hear from you. Trust? Confidence? Valued? Make sure what you say, and how you say it reinforces that feeling.
- Imagine your communication through their eyes. Think about what their needs, concerns and questions might be, so you can proactively address them.
- Are you talking about offerings that help people save time, reduce costs, increase convenience? Lead with the win. First tell people how they’ll benefit, and then explain how you do it. Not the other way around. Switching the order may not seem like a big deal (it’s still in the sentence, right?). But remember the old saying, “features, tell; benefits sell.”
Why it matters
When you focus primarily on your business, or bury the benefits in logistical details, a common emotional response is distrust or indifference. And those are the last things you want customers to feel.
Across the customer journey, people will remember what you did well — and what you didn’t. And with increasingly fierce competition to win and keep customers, how you communicate could make all the difference.