Are you really listening?
How are you?
No really, how’s it going today and what about your week so far?
Are you listening and waiting to understand the answer, or are you already moving on to your goal for the conversation; the actions and ‘next steps’ to the outcome you want to achieve?
Living and working remotely puts a lot more emphasis on the importance of listening properly. It’s harder to read the faces we’ve always seen regularly; family, friends, colleagues and clients, from a small screen on your phone, tablet or desktop. And it’s now, like no other time previously, that we really need to tune into the nuances of non-verbal communication to understand the needs of those around us.
Customer behaviour has changed overnight
The massive health, emotional and financial impact of coronavirus, combined with the speed at which our lives have changed in the last month, can’t yet begin to be calculated into a magic formula of ‘back to normal’. With no end-date to the lockdown, which is likely to become a gradual lifting of restrictions, how can we know when to expect the resumption of normal working hours, or business as usual?
After the mother of all jolts to our daily lives, taking into account our individual, family and work circumstances, the jury’s officially out as to when we’ll begin to feel ‘normal’, or in control our lives again. Many of us are looking east to the green shoots of the post-lockdown awakening in Wuhan and closer to home in other parts of Europe, the current templates for an exit strategy.
The uncertainty means enormous changes to our buying decisions, at home and at work. Personally, while my family food bill has rocketed with five of us at home eating three meals a day (and snacks), my fuel bill and Insta–shopping habit have disappeared (hurrah!).
Focus on getting the messaging right
At work, while initial reviews with clients focused on rescheduling, repurposing and delaying upcoming campaigns, there’s been a need for additional support to change the tone of messaging, across both internal and external communications and quickly. It’s never been more apparent the importance of storytelling, to help shift the focus of their messaging to the support they can offer their clients now and in the coming weeks and months.
In-house PR and marcomms professionals are feeling intense scrutiny and pressure about getting their messaging right and fitting the moment. Getting it wrong means being seen to exploit coronavirus for financial gain. B2B and B2C companies who fail to listen to the changing needs of their customers are being exposed, sometimes brutally on social platforms, by end-users who feel they’ve misjudged the mood and the market.
Marketing and communications still need to resonate emotionally but without being seen as opportunistic. Companies need to remain authentic to their core brand messaging but recognise their buyers have changed as the world has changed overnight.
The most important thing for communications right now is to support your customers through the uncertain weeks and months ahead.
Just keep listening.