Paul provides insight as to the importance of your tone when communicating with customers.
In the midst of ongoing pandemic fallout, you need to ensure that your customer messaging strikes an empathetic tone.
Put yourself in the position of the customer: think how they think and feel as they feel.
Before clicking SEND, have a colleague or sales manager read the message and get some feedback on your tone. Your message may read differently than you thought.
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Why does customer messaging matter in tough times?
(Transcribed from podcast)
Today, we’re going to talk about customer messaging. And messaging matters, especially when we go through tough times. So the question we’re going to answer today is, “Why does my message matter during tough times?”
Now, before we get into that, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Podcasting is such a great way to connect with your audience, build your brand, connect with your customers, whoever it may be. And if you’ve ever thought about starting a podcast, whether it’s as a hobby, whether it’s to help build your brand, or just something you wanted to try, reach out to Andrea and her team at The Creative Impostor Studios. They’re going to help you get started. They’ll be able to provide guidance on what kind of technology you need. They’re going to help you as far as getting it set up on the different platforms that are available. So, reach out to Andrea and her team. They are here to support you. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, this question we’re going to answer about customer messaging is actually a whole chapter in the new book, Selling Through Tough Times. And guess what? This chapter that we’re going to talk about today, messaging, is available for download for free. You can visit ToughTimer.com—that’s the book’s website—go to the Downloads section and you will see Chapter 14, Crafting Your Message. This chapter is available for download for free. It’s there for you. Check it out. And also, if you like what you read, pick up a copy of the book. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.
So, let’s get back to that question: Why does messaging matter in tough times? Well, let me share a quick example of this, how messaging matters. So on April 20th, 4/20 of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Many of you remember this event. It was, it was all over the news. We were all just watching the damage. It was a terrible moment. And this was off the coast of Louisiana. It ended up taking about 90 days to seal off the well and stop the flow of oil.
Now, this event is considered the largest oil spill in history, and it’s estimated that a little over 3 million—3 million barrels of oil were released into the ocean. Now, during this crisis, hundreds of thousands of seabirds, wildlife, fish, they are all dying, and an ecosystem was completely destroyed. Thousands of miles of shoreline were impacted, and commercial fishing operations were basically brought to a complete halt. They were losing money. And also, people died. I think it was eleven people died from the explosion of the rig.
And in the midst of all of this, BP’s (British Petroleum’s) CEO, Tony Hayward, he said—and he was apologizing—he said, “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” Now, as soon as he said that, I’d like my life back, there was a collective gasp. I mean, we were all just thinking, ‘I can’t believe he just said this.’ Here’s this guy, this multimillionaire who’s not in Louisiana, who’s living over in, I think, London, I guess, I don’t know, England, and he’s saying, I just want my life back. Think about how the people felt who were living in it, whose businesses were destroyed, who lost family members, friends. You look at the devastation of this and he wants his life back. His message was completely tone deaf as to what was going on. Now, after a few more missteps, Tony Hayward, he was replaced as the CEO.
And when we think about messaging, and you think about that moment, it was a crisis. We have to be very careful, not only of the words that we choose, but also of our tone. We need to ensure that our message strikes an empathetic tone. And the same is true as we go through any tough time. You know, right now we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. There’s still economic fallout. There are still certain industries that are facing unique challenges. People are still on edge. We need to ensure that our message today strikes an empathetic tone. And when I think about this, I’m reminded of Plato’s, famous quote. He said, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
This is especially true in tough times. Every person experiences tough times with a varying degree of pain. When we’re communicating our message of value, we need to sure that our message is received and—communicated, rather—in a way that is empathetic. And so one thing we encourage salespeople do, when they’re beginning a messaging campaign—and that means either reaching out to a customer to try to get a meeting, or following up, whatever they’re doing, however they’re communicating their message of value—. We know you’re going to proofread it and hit F9 to spell check it, but are you also going to empathetically proof that message and ask yourself, ‘Okay, what kind of tone is this sending? How are they going to receive this?’
And one sure-fire way to ensure that your message is going to land the way you want it to land, is to put yourself in the position of that customer: to think as they think and feel as they feel. And this is pretty simple process. Before you hit send, or before you pick up that phone to call, imagine what it’s like to be the person you’re reaching out to. Imagine what it’s like to struggle as they struggle. Imagine what it’s like to be in their position and have all those priorities stacked on top of them. Imagine the problems that they’re experiencing right now. And just by doing that—the simple act of putting yourself in the position of the person you’re sending a message to—it’s going to strike an empathetic tone. That’s so important is just to imagine what it’s like to be the customer that you are reaching out to.
Now, another thing I would suggest doing, send the message to a colleague, to a boss, supervisor, whoever it may be. Have someone else read the message, and you want them to read the message as if they were the customer and give you some candid feedback. You think about confirmation bias and how that plays into our messaging. We are naturally going to look for the positive aspects of our message. We know what we meant to say, and we’re going to read it as such. But what we need to do is have someone outside of ourselves read the message and give some feedback on how it’s going to land. That’s so critical, to get that outside perspective, outside opinion.
So, two quick tips: again, read your message with an empathetic tone. That means you have to imagine what it’s like to be your customer. And then, send that message to someone you know, could be a colleague, it could be a boss, a supervisor. Get their feedback. And we want to understand how they received the message and that’s going to determine how compelling it is. The key, again, is we want to make sure that we are communicating a message of value with an empathetic tone, especially during tough times.
Make it a big day.