Empathy Is Needed When Connecting with Restaurant Customers During a Virus

When the coronavirus has our anxiety running high and physical interaction runs low, empathy is even more important.

Emotion has always played an essential part in the connections between customers and employees.

Make an emotional connection, and you will stand out and be remembered long after the virus is gone.

Most of making an emotional connection have to do with how you communicate.

How can you connect emotionally with your customers and employees even when you are separated physically from them?

It would be best if you showed people that you understand what they might be feeling.

It is scientifically proven that food and emotion are linked! 

Conveying and Demonstrating Empathy

Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his emotions with his employees in a letter. He admitted, “I’m sad…” and “My list of worries right now like yours I’m sure is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues…”

The key to empathy is understanding and being sensitive to the feelings of others.

It is crucial that you truly understand your customers and employees.

You need to get input from them and invite them to share their feelings, stories, and questions.

Too many business owners are more concerned with giving messages than on wanting input from them.

Chobani President Peter McGuinness spent a recent morning helping the company’s grocery partners pack out the product. Doing so showed support and respect for his customers and enabled him to learn firsthand what they are dealing with.







When natural and organic online retailer Thrive Market realized that customers could expect an up to a two-week delay in their deliveries due to increases in orders, they were out front with the delivery issue. They did not want to wait to tell customers. It posted the message in a pop-up window on its homepage.

Despite risking revenue, they went even farther.  they asked its customers to keep orders under $100 and to consider waiting to place an order if they had already done so in the last two weeks.

CEO and co-founder Nick Green told Supermarket News that customer response has been positive, noting their understanding “has been a humbling display of solidarity.”

Do Not Be Generic Be A Unique Owner

Convey information does not mean you have to follow a generic delivery.

Do not be afraid to show your personality if that fits with your restaurant.

Sandwich chain Ike’s Love & Sandwiches applied its personality by offering a free roll of toilet paper with every sandwich order. An ad promoting the offer sported a tagline that was sure to stand out and be shared.

“We got your back(side)” even in the middle of a crisis, there is an opportunity to do something creative and even valuable for customers.

Emotional Connection Matters

Now is the time to exercise empathy and establish emotional connections. To cement relationships with customers and employees, you have to connect.

How to Establish These Emotional Connections from Your Competitors

It is hard to stand apart from other restaurants serving up a similar menu to the same groups.

It can be a real struggle.

But you can set your restaurant apart.

Serving delicious is a given.

Your food needs to be fresh and prepared properly.

Your locations need to be clean, and your staff needs to be well trained.







If that foundation has been created, you can start to develop what makes you different from the sea of restaurants in your area.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your marketing and how you incorporate one important ingredient, empathy.

Forbes describes empathy in the context of marketing as “putting your audience’s needs before your own.”

Put yourself in their shoes to understand the challenges they face.

Empathy Is Essential to Your Success

Empathy is necessary to attract and retain dining guests. It is not a new concept. Though you’re an owner trying to market your restaurant, you are a consumer too. Think of the stores or businesses that you have been turning to during this virus. What are they doing to make this awful and unpleasant part of your life better?

Examples of Ways Food Businesses Show Empathy

Domino’s gives guests more than 15 ways to order pizza. They also brought the 25 steps it used to take to submit an order down to 5.

All these innovations result in more time back to the customer to spend how they choose.

Starbucks, Potbelly, Cava, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe are also time backing with technology. They have crafted digital touchpoints where guests can place an order and pick it up in-store; you can get customers in and out of the physical location in a matter of minutes.

Subway ran a promotion for “customer appreciation day,” which offered guests $2 subs.

Chipotle, whose transparency about fair pay for employees and focus on management promotion from within, brings people in for more than just the burritos.

The most important lesson of all: understand your guests and employees and who they are as humans. When you know that, you can take your marketing strategy to new heights.

Show Your Customers You Appreciate Them

Bestselling author Brene Brown asserts that “empathy fuels connection.”

A connection is exactly what you need to convert customers into forever followers.

A great way of getting there with restaurant marketing is by showing appreciation.

Who was the last person who took the time to really show their appreciation for you?

Was it a heartfelt thank you note from a loved one?

Take that warm feeling and inspire that in your guests.

Empathy is understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

Reducing your customer’s frustration, and your restaurant can automatically become the go-to place for their meals!


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