How Do You Talk to Your Customers During Times of Change?

Jul 15, 2020

“You can change only what people know, not what they do.”
― Scott Adams

In times of uncertainty, it is difficult to forecast how people will react to change. Customers will react in different ways and being able to predict these reactions will allow you to have a higher impact during the process of change.

From the way the Prime Minister addresses the nation in relation to COVID-19 to executive teams managing change programs, it is important to understand how people will react and interpret these messages. Will the messages even penetrate if they are not delivered in a way that is aligned to people’s propensity for change?

Talking to Customers - RDG

Connecting with Your Consumers

In the current climate, it is important to understand how our customers are reacting to change and if they are hearing our messages of solidarity and assistance.

All customers are different, like snowflakes, no two are the same. We must understand they are humans, emotional beings, and in times of change and uncertainty, we must understand how to talk to them on an emotional level.

As we know customer behaviour is driven by their personalities. Different personalities react to change in different ways. It is important to truly understand these reactions and the emotions behind them to allow us to connect with our customers during times of change.

By truly understanding your customers’ needs and desires you will be able to determine the most optimum way to speak with them during periods of uncertainty. This will, therefore, ensure your messages get through and you can stay connected on an emotional level.

A detailed strategy for each of your target customer segments will help you stay connected with your customers, helping you maintain a strong relationship through times of change. This strategy should describe what tonality to use, style of imagery and what the goal of the messaging should be.

Let’s look into a few examples of how these interactions may change for different customer segments:

Group A – Searching for Comfort

Looking for constant reassurance. They want to be looked after by you and guided through the change. Looking for support and the assurance that you are there with them through the journey. They want to be able to rely on you. Treating your customers as friends will then get them to interact with you as a friend, showing that you are looking after each other.

Group B – Getting to the Point

This segment just wants to know how the outcome will affect them. They are looking for concise, to the point, information that will tell them what they need to do and what they can expect.

Typing on keyboard - Talking to Customers - RDG

Group C – Focusing on the Detail

This group is very analytical and focused. They are looking for the data and supporting information as to what has caused the change and how the conclusion has been formed. This segment are after precise, data-rich information delivered in a calm and ordered manner.

Group D – Staying Positive

We then have the optimistic consumers who will see the positive outcomes in any change. They want to see constructive, life-affirming outcomes and will look for the silver lining. These consumers pursue the thought of how this change will impact for the better and are looking for encouraging messages.

Group E – Ready to Take Action

Our final segment is very much our warriors, going back in their DNA is the preparation for battle and willingness to fight. They want to know how they can participate and get involved, and are not afraid of change and will be first in line to assist and act.

By really understanding the drivers and motivations of each of your target customer segments, you can then determine how you can speak to them during times of change. Refining your tone of voice and messaging to really keep these customers engaged with you during your course of action.


About the Author

Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis  – General Manager Consumer Insights & Projects, Retail Doctor Group

Anastasia leads the Consumer Insights division of Retail Doctor Group. With a professional background as a scientific analyst and a Masters in Mathematics, Anastasia has developed a unique and proprietary approach to help retailers and FMCG brands understand their consumers and market opportunities.

Retail Doctor Group

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