How Companies Are Leading With Empathy

It is time to stand up and use your brand to show concern and empathy for employees and customers.
How Companies Are Leading With Empathy
Image credit: SDI Productions | Getty Images

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Guest Writer
Entrepreneur, Lawyer, Author and Freelance writer
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It is not often that business leaders are heard talking about empathy, but then it is not often that the entire world shuts down, so we are in grey areas everywhere anyway.

While some brands have simply shut down and ceased communication, some others have continued their usual marketing campaigns with an aim to meet their 2020 projections. Neither approach is the best way to present your brand in these uncertain times and to ensure that after this wave has passed you will emerge in the best light possible.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Empathy Is Good for Business

We may no longer be able to meet all our 2020 projections, but we can at least make sure that we use the powerful tool of empathy to uplift our societies and to stand out. Here are a few things some businesses are doing and that every business should consider doing.

Finding balance in communicating company updates

Some business owners subscribe to the school of thought that if you ignore something long enough, it will go away. These ones have continued to send their regular updates for new products and services. These brands are most likely going to be seen as insensitive.

Smart business leaders are tailoring the tone and content of their emails and communications with the general mood in society. This means, first of all, that the number of emails is limited only to essentials. Most people are already flooded with emails and texts from brands that they rarely ever heard from before now.

Correspondence that cover questions around your company’s processes and procedures in light of the crisis are relevant at this time. Policy changes as well as explaining delays with business processes also count as valuable correspondence.

A classic example of this kind of communication was seen in the correspondence sent out by Rent the Runway to all their customers and external stakeholders in which they explained the scientific implications of their new cleaning processes based on legitimate CDC research. This was done in a bid to ease their customer’s minds and answer what must have been the prevailing question on their customer’s minds, “How sanitary is the process of borrowing clothing items at this time?”

Overhaul Your Business Processes

In this time when many businesses are forced to close physical stores, some other businesses have seen an upsurge in demand for their services. Businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores and other businesses that deliver essential services have seen an upsurge in demand for their services.

Businesses like this that must remain open due to the necessity of your service, have had to take radical steps to align with the measures required in order to serve both their staff and their customers.

Related: Empathy in Business Is Vital to an Entrepreneur's Success

It is necessary for your concern for your staff to match your concern for your customers as these essential businesses are now forced to integrate functional employee wellness programs to boost staff immune systems at this time. Some are introducing free Vitamin C-based drinks, as well as the essential sanitizers and face masks.

Nothing screams empathy more than how far overboard a business is willing to go to serve your external and internal audience in a time like this. Making radical changes will not mean much if you do not communicate the exact changes that you have made and how exactly it will benefit your staff and customers. Do not assume that they all still have the same confidence in your brand as they have always had. 

One company that has exemplified this radical internal overhaul is Novel, a co-working space chain. The company sent out a very detailed explanation of the radical steps they had taken to ensure the safety of their customers. It details things like social-distancing procedures, room reservation policies, as well as what find most empathetic: the radical cost-cuts that they afforded customers who absolutely needed their services at this time.

Examples like this should be emulated by all businesses who find that their services are essential in a time like this. 

Moving forward with caution and care

The ultimate goal of every business leader is to proceed with business in the most responsible manner at a time like this and not grinding all operations to a halt. However, how we choose to move forward matters just as much.  

It could very easily be perceived as insensitive if you just go on right ahead and implement the next things on your calendar and market them to your customers in your usual radical manner. Business leaders are letting empathy color their marketing efforts and their implementation of their business agenda going forward.

Related: A Little Empathy Makes Good Leaders Great

Reese Witherspoon, the actress and CEO of Draper James, set a beautiful example that was lauded by her customers. She sent a personal message addressing the current situation while also seeking their permission to introduce their spring collection in an effort to ‘be a source of happiness and light in customer’s lives

Her gesture didn’t just get positive responses because of its concern for her customers, it also saw customers continue to spend on the Drapper James Spring collection. The idea is to move your business forward gradually and with the utmost concern for the sensibilities of your staff and customers, rather than to shut down and wait it out.

Businesses that master this art will have an edge when the storm passes and it will.

Embracing community service

Massive companies have already chipped in to help. Loom has made its video-conferencing app, Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. To help them cope with the closure of schools.

Companies like Google are offering paid sick leave to all temporary and permanent staff to those who need it, and companies like Nuun is sending free products to health professionals who are in the front line of the fight against the Virus to help them rehydrate.

Empathy is more important than ever

Not every company can afford to make huge gestures, and we do not all have massive social responsibility budgets, but contributing in whatever simple way now will make you stand out later. But every business leader must not hide at a time like this — it is time to be as visible as possible and to do as much as possible with your brand to show concern and contribute to this global fight.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur