As people around the globe struggle to navigate day to day obstacles that come with COVID-19, it is more important than ever for brands to connect with and comfort their customers. For many businesses, this will require a completely new approach.
Coronavirus: An opportunity to build customer trust, not to push sales.
With COVID-19’s rapid spread, the bull market constantly bucking up and down, and the recent declaration of national emergency from the President, consumers are becoming increasingly anxious about the reality that is about to face them. Panic buying is rampant, schools and universities are closing, and offices are asking workers to work from home.
Certainly both online and offline businesses are feeling anxious as well. For some businesses, sales may be surging because of supply hoarding, until the bull-whip effect sets in and no supply remains on the shelves. For other businesses, sales have dipped significantly as consumers guard their wallets and spend on essentials first, as they nervously watch the unpredictable market rise and fall.
So: what’s a brand to do?
Over the next few weeks, things will more likely than not continue to get worse before they get better. While sales may be down for your business, there is still a huge opportunity to win with your customers by building their trust in your brand, especially if you are an online retailer with an email list or any business with an engaged online community.
7 Ways to Build Customer Trust During the Coronavirus Outbreak
1. Send an email to your list or a post to your online community with a statement on your business’s approach to coronavirus.
Sending a thoughtful email to your list outlining what your brand is doing in the wake of the coronavirus is a great way to build trust with your customers. You should avoid being promotional in this email. Its purpose should instead be to establish expectations for your base for any orders placed in the coming weeks and to quell any anxieties your customers may have about deliveries, supply chain, or your production process. Another best practice is to address your customer by name directly or to address your brand’s community as if in a formal letter and to end your message with a warm sign off from a member of your team. We love the email sent by DTC brand GEM below.
2. Keep customers updated on how you are handling any potentially unstable supply chains.
After your initial email to your base with your plan for handling supply and demand, keep your list updated if anything changes in your supply chain. If stock on a popular product runs out, try and give a reasonable estimate of when it will be available next. If you don’t know, be honest about that too, and recommend any alternative in-stock products to your customers. Put honesty and transparency above all else, and the consumer will trust that you are doing everything you can to resolve their issues. When you are honest and transparent, they will also understand when certain things are out of your control.
3. Give them your brand's promise, whatever it may be.
If you refuse to price gouge even when demand is high in the market (see: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes), let your customers know. If you foresee any issues with delivery, assure your customers that they will be fully refunded if the product does not arrive to them within a certain time window in the event of supply or delivery issues caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Finally, remind customers of any existing promises your brand has made in the past that you plan to stick to, like abiding by certain regulations, practicing a sustainable supply chain, giving back X% of proceeds to your chosen charity, etc. Just make sure the promise you make is a promise you can 100% keep.
4. Share with them what your business is doing to combat coronavirus.
If you feel comfortable doing so, share with your customers the practices and precautions your own brand is taking in order to care for your employees and their loved ones. It is an excellent “we’re all in this together” approach. If you have introduced a new work-from-home policy or guaranteed sick leave for employees, share with your customers that your brand is doing its part in containing the virus as well.
5. Assure them that they will be taken care of.
Customers want to know that they can rely on your brand. Remind them that they remain a top priority, and that your brand will do everything they can to make sure orders are met. If supply or delivery circumstances change, have a plan to address customers that may not receive their order when expected, including refunding an order or providing store credit for future purchases.
6. Offer an outlet to voice any concerns they may have.
Along those lines, inform customers about how they can best reach a member of your team to voice any concerns or ask any questions. If you have multiple channels of outreach (phone, social media, email, etc.), let them know which channels will get their questions answered the fastest. Additionally, give them realistic expectations of wait time given the changing circumstances, as well as a promise that your team will get back to them as soon as they can.
7. Provide educational content to help them in this time.
Thanks to the coronavirus, the lives of many Americans will be changing drastically over the next few weeks to next few months. No matter what business you are in, there are a number of ways you can address the coronavirus in a way that provides extra value to your audience and puts them more at ease.
Written by Celia Quillian for Matcha and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sunday, August 9, 2020