Consider the following tweet, which he sent out on December 26:
Wanted again to send a note of deep gratitude to Tesla owners WW for taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2017
So much blood, sweat & tears from the Tesla team went into creating cars that you'd truly love. I hope you do.
How can we improve further?
In a few short sentences, Musk provides a masterful lesson in emotional intelligence--the ability to make emotions work for you instead of against you.
Here are just a few things his tweet accomplished:
1. He makes customers (and employees) feel good.
At a glance, Musk's opening comment looks like a simple thank-you. He makes sure to demonstrate appreciation for the thousands of Tesla employees.
But also notice how he thanks Tesla customers specifically--for "taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail."
In effect, he's commending Tesla owners for supporting David vs. Goliath, for helping the company succeed against all odds. With this short statement, Musk reinforces the connection with his core customer: people who want more than a car--they want to support a movement.
2. He invites complaints.
Rather than shying away from customer complaints, Musk invites them. He identifies these as a gift--because they offer valuable feedback and the opportunity to improve.
"A well-thought-out critique of whatever you're doing is as valuable as gold," said Musk in one interview. "You should take the approach that you're wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong."
3. He responds in real time.
Within minutes, customers responded with requests ranging from an electric pickup truck, to better navigation software, to having Bluetooth not auto-connect to the phone. (That last one came courtesy of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz--guess he hates it when his wife steals his calls when walking by the garage with her key.) Musk responded positively to each of those tweets.
This single action is smart on many levels.
For one, it gives Musk a chance to connect personally with customers. (Musk is even known to joke with customers through Twitter.) How many CEOs do you know who regularly engage with their customers online?
Second, consider this: Tesla was likely already working on some of these ideas, but the responses help Musk and his team decide which products and features to prioritize.
Finally, the tweet sends a powerful message: that great ideas can come from anywhere--especially customers.
As you can see, there are lots of lessons here for business owners but also for managers and team leads. I believe friend and fellow writer Karthik Rajan summed it up best:
"Gratitude + seeking feedback for improvement + follow-through is a great combination."