During times of crisis, writing empathetic emails is important to show the human side of your business. With the COVID-19 pandemic being the most recent and obvious example, it’s common for businesses to send out emails to customers.
These emails are often meant to keep customers informed about what kind of precautionary steps the company is taking. And to let them know that they’re here to provide support.
In recent months, most people have received a slew of emails like these. However, some have had more of an impact than others.
If you want to ensure your crisis-response emails are effective and meaningful to your customers, it’s important to show empathy. Not sure what this is or how to do this? Keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know about how to write empathetic emails in stressful or difficult times.
What Is Empathy?
Empathy is defined as an ability to understand someone else’s feelings. When it comes to running a business and communicating with customers, there are many questions one can ask to write empathetic emails. Here are some of the most useful questions to consider:
- How are the people I’m trying to help feeling right now?
- How would I feel if I was in their position?
- What can I do to help them right now?
- If I were in their position, what kind of help would I expect?
- What actions are most likely to help this person feel happy or satisfied?
Take steps to answer these questions. Then use them in your email copy. Consider the way customers and clients feel during a difficult time. It’s easier to connect with them and help them to feel seen and heard.
The Importance of Empathy in Customer Service
Empathy is an essential element of good customer service. And good customer service is crucial to any business that wants to stay afloat long-term (including during a global or nation-wide crisis). There are many reasons why business owners need to prioritize empathy in their customer communications, including the following:
Improved Customer Satisfaction
When businesses show empathy to their customers in their email reactions, their customers are more likely to feel satisfied with the service they receive. Customers want to know that they’re being taken care of. And they want to know the specific steps their favourite businesses are taking to protect them and act in their best interests.
More Customer Loyalty
When you show empathy to your customers and let them know that you care about them, their affinity to your brand rises. That means they will be more inclined to stick with you long-term. They’ll also feel more connected to your brand as a whole. And they may be more willing to recommend your products or services to their friends and family during times of crisis. Especially if they feel that you’re handling the situation well.
Opportunities to Correct Negative Experiences
When you respond with empathy, you also have an opportunity to correct potential negative experiences your customers may have had. If you’ve received feedback that you haven’t handled a difficult situation well, send an empathetic email. It gives you a chance to fix the problem, respond again in a more helpful way, and provide solutions.
Tips for Writing an Empathetic Email
We love giving email marketing tips. When writing an email during a time of crisis, it’s important to take certain steps to ensure you’re using an empathetic tone. And make sure that you are helping your customers feel seen and valued. Below are some tips on how to show empathy in your writing:
Focus on the Customer
When you’re writing an email to your customers during a time of crisis, it’s imperative that you focus on them.
Remember, a key element of empathy is being able to understand other people's feelings and put yourself in their shoes. In order to do this, you need to think about them and their needs during this time. Don’t let your own interests or opinions cloud your thinking and prevent you from being truly empathetic.
Keep track of how many times you use the words “I” and “we” or mention your company’s name. Then compare that to the number of times you use the word “you” and refer to the customer. Ideally, you’ll talk more about them and their needs than you will about yourself or your company.
Help Them Feel Valued
Another important part of writing empathetic emails is helping your customers feel valued. Let them know how much you appreciate them for working with your business.
Use statements like “I see you’ve been with us for a long time” or “We want to thank you for sticking with us”. Your customers will feel appreciated. It also lets them know that you’re grateful for them.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Think about how your customers are feeling during a time of crisis. What kinds of questions do they likely have? What fears or worries are troubling them?
The more you are to identify their pain points and address them in your emails, the more connected they’ll feel your business. This will also help to validate their concerns and show them that they’re not alone.
Provide Solutions and Resources
In addition to acknowledging customers’ fears and concerns, be sure to also provide potential solutions. For example, give them links to blog posts or a chance to download a helpful guide.
This is a good point in the email to talk to them about what you’re doing in your business, too. For example, many retailers have sent emails in the wake of COVID-19 talking about the steps they’re taking to keep their stores clean. And to reassure that everyone who visits them will be safe.
Be Serious, but Don’t be Overly Formal
When sending out an email to your customers, it’s important to show that you’re taking the situation, whatever it may be, seriously. Make sure your tone matches the gravity of the circumstances. Choose your words carefully to ensure you don’t come across as though you’re making light of the matter.
At the same time, try to avoid being overly formal. If your wording feels stiff and cold, your customers won’t feel as though you’re empathizing with them.
There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers for feedback. In fact, this is another way to empathize and let them know that you value their opinion. Consider inviting them to respond to your email with suggestions for how you can improve. Or invite them to ask any remaining questions they might have about your procedures moving forward.
In times of crisis, your customers can benefit from an extra dose of positivity in their lives. It’s possible to show that you’re taking a situation seriously without being sour or negative. In addition to expressing your concerns and letting customers know that you recognize theirs, provide them with something positive, too.
Talk about the productive steps you’re taking, as well as the positive actions you’ve noticed others taking, for example. Consider giving readers a chance to take action, too, so they can feel empowered and in control of at least one thing in their lives.
Keep Information Relevant
When responding to a difficult situation, it’s important to keep all the information in the email relevant.
Let's look at an example. Let's say you run an airline or travel agency. And let's say your customers are in a situation in which they cannot travel. Now is not a good time to advertise your latest travel deal in your email blast. Make sure you don’t have any automated emails in the pipeline that will feel insensitive. You don't want to make it seem as though you aren’t taking matters seriously.
Thank Your Customers
Finally, don’t forget to thank your customers. At the end of the email, let them know one last time that you appreciate their business and are grateful for their patience.
This gives you a chance to finish the email on a positive note, and it provides one last opportunity to help customers feel valued. That can go a long way when it comes to retaining their business.
Examples of Empathetic Emails
Okay, you’re convinced that it’s important to show empathy in your emails. You might be wondering, though, how you can ensure it comes across when you’re communicating with customers or clients.
Here are five examples of empathetic business emails from a wide range of companies. You can use them as inspiration the next time you need to reach out during a time of crisis:
Asana is a project management software that many remote teams and workers use to stay organized on various projects. In response to COVID-19, Asana sent out a series of emails to users letting them know what was going on on their end. In it, they informed their users what they were doing to support everyone using their software on a regular basis.
In the email from Asana shown below, the company does a great job of putting themselves in their customers’ shoes. Notice how they shared the fact that their team is working 100% from home just like many of their customers. They also provided plenty of resources to help their customers find their footing and feel more confident about remote work. These included free virtual training, blog posts, and guides.
2. At Home
The furniture and home decoration store At Home had to pivot quickly to adjust their services in response to COVID-19. They did an excellent job of keeping customers in the loop while also empathizing with the fears and frustrations they might be experiencing.
In this email, they assured customers of their commitment to their health and safety. They also outlined the specific measures they’d be taking, such as offering curbside pickup.
There are plenty of great examples of businesses sending empathetic emails even during non-pandemic times. In addition to sending empathetic emails to your subscriber list, write empathetic emails 1-on-1. For example, companies like online pet retailer Chewy do a good job of showing empathy on a smaller scale.
Take this example of Chewy responding to an email from a customer asking for a refund after their dog had passed away. In their response email:
- Chewy apologizes for the customer’s loss.
- Does what they can to help (processing the refund).
- And even offers a solution for how the customer can get rid of the food they no longer need.
4. Bloom & Wild
For a flower delivery service like Bloom & Wild, it would make sense to send out a Mother’s Day sale email blast. Bloom & Wild took a different approach, though. They showed empathy by providing their customers who might find Mother’s Day to be a difficult holiday with a chance to opt-out.
In a mass email sent to their subscriber list, Bloom & Wild provided the option to opt-out of Mother’s Day-related emails. This wouldn't affect the primary subscriber list. They put themselves in the shoes of their subscribers and provided a solution that was important to a segment of their customers.
Notion is another project management software that exemplified empathy in the way they reached out to customers in the wake of COVID-19.
In this email, Notion acknowledged that their team was in the same position as many other teams worldwide and working fully from home. They also included a breakdown of some of the new features they’d added to their software to make it more helpful for remote workers. This included better notifications and a dedicated inbox.
Write More Empathic Emails
As you can see, there are lots of steps you can take to come across as more empathetic in your business emails. Keep this information in mind for the next time you need to send an email to a customer during a difficult time. These tips will help you show your support and let customers know that you’re on their side.