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Brands, be brave! Netflix CMO shares how to connect with customers in uncertain times

In our latest WorkDifferent event, Bozoma Saint John, CMO at Netflix, talks about how ‘bravery’ is a key tool for brands that can help them keep hold of their customers and audiences.

With a career spanning iconic brands including Pepsi, Uber, and Apple, Bozoma Saint John knows what it takes for brands to be effective in a crisis. In the uncertain months ahead, she says, bravery is the key that will make or break companies:

“For me, bravery is being able to be vulnerable. Bravery in the context of our businesses is about pure vulnerability - being open. Being able to sit back and say ‘I don't know’, ‘I'm not sure’ - and now I'm going to ask some questions on how to actually move forward.”

Hear more from world-class leaders in our on-demand WorkDifferent sessions

Bozoma’s top 3 takeaways

1. Show customers that you understand them

The pandemic has hit homes, livelihoods and families in unimaginable ways. What customers want from brands has changed, and will continue to change as we move forward. The first step that brands should take is to slow down and reassess the situation:

“It takes real bravery to stop and say ‘Oh my God, I don't know what the hell is going on’. I have to stop and reassess my business - actually reassess the way I talk to people, not just my employees, but to my customers. I have to readjust my company values. I perhaps need to be more transparent about my company value.”

2. Build a caring relationship

Leaders must show their own vulnerability, and move away from an image of fearlessness and certainty. Bozoma suggests that brand leaders must "look inside, put yourself in the shoes of people and start understanding your humanity” to better connect with consumers.

Speaking about her own experience, she said, “We're expected to be fearless all of the time. The amazing thing though is that those are not opposites - fearlessness does not equal bravery.”

Bravery right now for companies is simply in being human. You being human. It's not about being perfect. It's not about having all the answers

Customers are vulnerable right now and they want to know that you care about them. They want to see that you’re human, just like they are.

Ask ‘how can I help you?’ and show your human-side to help strengthen your connections with customers.

“People care about how they are living,” said Bozoma. “They want comfort and they feel anxious, so ask how your product or service is caring for people?"

3. Provide transparency to help you connect

Being authentic and transparent can show that you respect your customers and you want to connect with them, says Bozoma. “The most beautiful thing about authenticity is that people are attracted to it. Everybody is attracted to the person who is being most real with themselves.”

She adds that brands can harness this by being “transparent with your values and the things that the company stands for. We've all known for some time that this was coming - that we need to be more transparent.

“The truth of the matter is that our customers and consumers and audiences want to know more about what we care about and they want to know more about our value system.”

Feeling inspired?

Hear more from world-class leaders in our on-demand WorkDifferent webinars