In today’s world we are aware of a sense of disconnection and distance between people, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be a special challenge when managing communications online.

There’s no silver bullet here, but we can each play our part. It starts by humanizing our interactions. This notion that emotions and personality don’t belong in business is wrong.

It’s time for businesses and their customers to acknowledge each other’s humanity once again. Know that it is okay for both customers-members and employees to empathize with each other. It’s a two-way street.

Here are some suggestions to humanize a connection between your employees and your customer-members:

Show and tell

It’s common practice to feature photos on your website of managerial employees. Take it a step further. Add the names and photos of all public facing employees. This can give your employees a sense of pride for being recognized and allows your site visitors to better connect with your employees when they see their photographs on your team page. The Powerful Staff Directory Web App allows you to easily set up and manage the list of employees on your website, complete with photo display.

Enhance it further by adding brief biographies to each employee profile.

Go the extra mile by adding recurring news features on the website, each highlighting a particular employee. An interview format is a fun way to do it that really draws people in because they get to hear directly from the mouth of people “behind the scenes”.

Be honest

A key factor to foster a sense of humanity is honesty and openness. We are all understandably rankled when information is not forthcoming about active issues or questions. Being honest about the situation can do a lot to smooth things over.

Even when you don’t have answers yet, that is frankly the best thing to communicate. Nobody anticipates everything, and it’s okay to acknowledge.

You can even put this in writing. Outages happen. Mistakes happen. We’re human, with human foibles, human limitations, and human emotions. All we can do is give our best effort now, try to improve over time, and be honest with people about what’s going on. What’s important is the commitment to transparency and giving our best efforts.

When mistakes or problems happen, it’s okay to acknowledge and apologize. Conversely, it’s more than okay to celebrate and share successes!

When issues occur, such as outages, anticipate and acknowledge customer frustrations. Let them know you are with them and that you understand how it can make them upset.

By humanizing interactions and ourselves, we also give those around us the permission to treat us in a more human way, improving our and their well-being.

Involve your employees and customers in news articles

Let your customers hear from your employees. When talking about active events or projects, make sure to include direct quotes from relevant employees and even your customers! Include identifying information like job title to give it the personal touch.

It doesn’t need to be a large quote. Even a small quote can give a personal impression and introduce employees to the public, building trust and good will. And including quotes from customers (such as appreciation for speedy outage restorations or positive experiences with new cooperative projects) in your news articles can make your customers feel more connected to your employees.

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