I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual Communications Leadership Exchange conference. In less than two days, we heard from several top speakers about topics such as enhancing team performance, building an employer brand, and connecting employees with the customer experience. We had not one, but two, interactive panel discussions. And, we had plenty of time for informal discussions, networking, and socializing with other experienced communications professionals. While the theme of the conference was “The New Normal,” I found myself thinking about another common thread through many of the presentations that resonated with me: emotional connections.
As communicators, we spend our careers trying to engage audiences, and to me, the key to engagement is making emotional connections. For example, a high-performing team will make connections between its members and unite for a common cause. When you’re building an employer brand, you want potential candidates to make an emotional connection with your organization—to know that your company is the place they want to be. And what enables employees to be more connected to customers than understanding the customer experience?
Stories can be very effective in making emotional connections. For external audiences, such as potential candidates, you can use employee testimonials on the corporate careers page or LinkedIn profile to tell a brief story about what makes it worthwhile to work at your company. When you’re trying to engage employees in the mission of an organization, customer stories can be an effective means to connect.
I’ve spent several years of my career in pharmaceuticals and have had the fortune, at times, to have direct contact with patients—sometimes when creating testimonials for a sales meeting or expanding a patient advocacy program. Learning about patient stories is inspirational and motivational to me. Not everybody has the same opportunity for direct patient contact; therefore, you can create the opportunity for them to hear from customers—in person, via video, a blog, or even an intranet feature. All of these options can bring your team closer to the customer, giving them a chance to listen and feel that they’re acting on the customer’s behalf.
It’s worth investing the time to bring the customer voice closer to your employees to enable them to make more of an emotional connection and to become engaged. In the pharmaceuticals industry, it’s very rewarding to hear how a product saved a life. And, it can be just as motivating for an automotive plant employee to hear how important safety is to a car buyer, for a line worker in a chocolate factory to hear how much joy their product brings to a chocolate lover, or for a delivery driver to hear how receiving a delivery on time meant everything to a customer. Stories like these are all around if you take the time to look and listen.
In any business, you have customers, consumers, and/or patients who are impacted by what your employees do. So, how do you ensure that your team experiences the emotional connection?