31 March 2020

COVID-19 communication: A comforting tone

Expert comment
As we all adapt to an entirely new way of living, everyone is looking for reassurance – not just from friends, family or media outlets, but the companies we use too.

Our last blog looked at the value of voice in delivering a feeling of comfort, and combined with this, is the tone of these written and spoken communications. Whatever the message, delivering it with clarity – and above all, empathy – is key. While this can be effectively conveyed in the written medium, a professional voice artist can add a real humanity to a message – particularly when it’s heard as part of the caller experience.

 

A heartfelt message

Right now, companies everywhere are showing their solidarity through the COVID-19 outbreak by adapting their marketing message – as pointed out by Twitter in their recent blog explaining the importance of communications in times of crisis. One such brand being Nike. Renowned for their effective campaigns, they’re encouraging millions of loyal customers in Europe and the US to follow government advice and stay at home with their ‘play inside, play for the world’ campaign. Last week, they released a tweet including the words ‘Now more than ever, we are one team’ – invoking a feeling of togetherness and care for their followers.

In the UK, Pret-a-Manger have done something similar – focusing their efforts on the NHS staff who are working so hard. NHS workers can pick up free hot drinks, and get a 50% discount on anything else, in Pret stores nationwide – a remarkable gesture backed up by a comforting tone across Pret communications. In letters penned by CEO Pano Christou on the company’s website, customers are reassured and thanked, as Christou signs off ‘with love’ on each one – a subtle yet important touch that shows the real heartfelt feeling behind this gesture.

This may seem like a new – and welcome – wave of unity between corporation and consumer, but actually, times of crisis have always brought out the best in brands. In 1941, as many young men joined the US Army to fight in World War II, Coca-Cola showed their support – with company president Robert Woodruff stating that ‘every man in uniform gets a bottle for five cents […] whatever it costs the company’. While these examples may focus on actions rather than words, the tone is key in showing exactly how much the companies care – illustrating to consumers how important they think it is to do their bit.

 

A tone of humanity

This empathetic, understandable tone should be present across all communications – social media, any potential marketing literature, or any written correspondence with clients. Yet it’s as part of the caller experience that it can take on additional levels of humanity and personality. When you introduce messages at key caller touchpoints – at point of connection, out of hours or while they’re waiting to be connected – the message is not only carefully copywritten with compassion, but spoken with real humanity by professional voice artists who can deliver empathy and create an atmosphere, without even being in the room. When we’re all searching for support, reassurance is something we could all use a little more of – and tone is the real key behind this.

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