Coronavirus emails to customers are missing the mark

What can you say that’s relevant to our relationship?

Photo by Webaroo on Unsplash

Disasters require a response. You need to let your customers know that you have a plan. But sending your customers an email to remind them of online bill payment options — how is that a meaningful response to what is happening right now? How is the message different from the weekly email reminding customers to use mobile banking?

An email I received from Bank of Americaat 4:40am today

This is missing an opportunity to build a connection with your customer.

Email is an opportunity to strengthen bonds during a difficult shared experience

We’re all affected by the coronavirus at some level. For that reason alone, it cannot be business as usual. We use email to conduct transactions, to inform, but also to maintain ties. Many businesses will not make it in the next six months. Many customers will be will not be able to buy the products or services companies offer in the short term.

Some companies have gotten ahead of the pandemic by offering cancellations on reservations and refunding fees. Others have allowed postponement of payments. But like Bank of America, theyaccess to these services and options is not coming through email — it’s circulated through the news media. Meanwhile, people are getting notices people feel the need to say something about a current event. But r. And somehow you think by reminding people, you are helping the common good.

I agree acknowledging a truth we all know connects you to the reader, but if your reader thinks you’re saying the same thing as everyone else, they will tune you out.

Your message needs to be a story that is relevant to your audience. If you’re an airline company, and the government is restricting travel, your claims of aircraft cleanliness and cabin filtration will ring hollow. We’ve been on your airlines — they don’t feel pristine and they don’t smell great. And you’re just trying to keep us flying, which isn’t in our interest, but entirely in yours. Instead, you could step up and tell us how to reschedule our plans, get refunds, and if you need the business so badly, offer us discounted gift cards for future flights.

Likewise, if you’re a credit card company, reminding me that I can pay a bill online is not a great help given you’ve been telling me this for months — and I pay my bills online anyway (you should know this by now!). Instead, can you point me to hollow And given all the data you have on me, is it too much to ask to find something a little more contextual?

For example, if you are my electric company, and you want to talk to me about the coronavirus, don’t use that as an excuse to pitch automatic payments or paperless billing, things that save you money and ensure you get paid. You do that all year long. Instead, you might consider offering delayed payments, or assurances my electricity won’t be shut off during this time.

know I’m based in Texas, can you tell me like your policy on reservation cancellations. Or if you

None of these companies offered anything personalized If we thought repeating the same message was effective, we would have robots do our writing.

Yes, we must do our part to flatten the curve, disinfect, do social They have my email address because that’s how we communicate about our business. But nothing about this email is new or relevant to me.

First it was the airlines, assuring me their cabin filtration systems and enhanced cleaning procedures would ensure the safety of my air travel. Other restaurant and hotels followed. Now it’s my bank and electricity company reminding me that I can pay my bills online. How nice. Almost as nice as the property management company suggesting renters pay rent early.

Reader, commenter, and writer. Informed by my experiences as a parent, entrepreneur, and attorney.

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