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Building Consumer Trust in Your Enterprise During COVID-19 and Beyond

The current global pandemic landscape has posed a pressing challenge for enterprises around the globe, how do I gain consumer trust in my brand? 

A couple of months ago Edelman connected a 12-market study on the critical role brands are expected to play during the coronavirus pandemic, building trust and prioritizing stakeholder safety were at all-time highs. The global crisis has fundamentally changed how we perceive, act, and purchase. There is no rapid return to the previous normal on the immediate horizon. The new normal is encompasses trust at the core, with a company’s directive expanded to operate in the public interest, mitigate issues for all, collaborate and innovate. Per the report, the public wants brands to “step up, keep us safe, guide us and help us.” Companies that act in the interest of their employees, stakeholders and society at large will “reinforce their expertise, leadership and trust and immeasurably strengthen the bond they have with consumers.”

Consumer education becomes an important aspect of the enterprise communication protocol, including innovating how to communicate with new channels and methods especially across the retail space where so much in-person activity takes place. Per Edelman’s report  

“People want brands to use their power to educate (85 percent). That means offering instructional information about how to protect themselves. People want to know that the brand is helping (89 percent) and how they can best access its product and services (88 percent).”    

Retailer enterprises across the board have had to come up with new ways to win the trip to the store to ensure they can widen the basket and gain loyalty, which now is a battle of consumer trust in an organization’s ability to keep them safe while shopping, eating, visiting etc. We have seen the rise of mobile ordering, contactless payments, curbside pickup, surges in delivery options including contactless delivery. These are all ways of providing innovation and solutions to drive orders but still fall short on the most pressing manner weighing on consumer minds, their health, safety and wellbeing.  

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Consumers today are dealing with an ever-shifting landscape below their feet, more now than ever before, with pandemic spikes, openings and closings, so if your organization can provide consistently this will help build trust.  Organizations need to communicate clearly, set reasonable prices (resist surge pricing), and provide a consistent level of service. Trust is built on a relationship with customers and relationships are built on communication. At the beginning of the pandemic in the US I received an enormous amount of emails from brands large and small about how they care for me and what they are doing to respond, months later – crickets. This is a typical knee jerk reaction with no consistency in follow-through, the pandemic is not over, COVID-19 is not going away, how will businesses adjust their approach to building trust?  What can you do as an organization to help reduce fears and anxiety your customers have?

Communication and trust are built on transparency, when there is perceived deception from a consumer lens it becomes very difficult for a business to rebuild that trust and gain back loyalty. Especially now when the share of wallet for products have been disrupted with closures. This sends users seeking alternatives and looking for organizations that are prioritizing their needs above all. 

In our research, we have found many organizations large and small are going to extreme lengths to ensure customer’s, and employee’s health and safety yet do not know how to communicate this in a meaningful transparent way. When a customer walks in the door of an establishment they are currently doing so on blind trust that the business is adhering to all CDC, State and Local guidelines, that the business is taking the necessary measure to keep them safe. I am currently writing this as I sit in an outdoor shopping mall in California where patrons are all wearing masks, businesses have social distancing placards on the floor yet no one knows what these businesses are doing to keep them safe, like the pressed juice shop in front of me whose worker sprays and wipes the outside door handle every 15 minutes on the dot.   We at Klēn are here to provide an agile approach to build consumer trust as your organization navigates this crisis and beyond.