COVID Impact: Consumer Trust.
Your consumers’ trust should always drive your company’s communications strategy—it preserves your reputation and leads to a devoted customer base that can endure a downturn. But in the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to cultivate that trust. This includes trust that the information you provide is accurate and that your company is doing its best to handle the crisis at hand. A recent survey showed that consumers trust companies more than the media and our government. 74% trust major companies to deliver on what they promise, and 55% say they tend to trust the average American company. This faith puts the onus on companies to communicate with their consumers, as they may be one of the few sources of information they trust during COVID-19. It is imperative to nurture consumers’ trust through honest, compassionate, timely communication. Here’s how. Provide accurate and timely information There has been a drastic amount of misinformation about COVID-19 and our nation’s response through traditional media, online social networks, and word of mouth. Consumers are desperate for reliable, credible information. Building on the baseline of trust companies already have, providing continuous, factual information from trusted sources further helps you stand out in a time of uncertainty. But be careful not to pretend to be something that you aren’t. For all questions related to public health, refer your stakeholders to the CDC and other public health authorities for the latest updates. Practice empathy and compassion Trust is achieved when consumers believe you understand their challenges and needs. Weaving empathy and compassion into your communications will help solidify that belief. This can be achieved through establishing feedback mechanisms to hear directly from those you serve and responding to that feedback in your message. Acknowledge your mistakes and provide solutions We live in an imperfect world, where mistakes are made everyday. Should your company have its own failures, refusing to acknowledge them is the quickest way to destroy trust. Recognize your missteps, analyze and explain what went wrong, and provide your consumers with a solutions-based path forward. Practice transparency in your company’s future In times of crisis, communications about internal operations are just as important as updates on your company’s productivity. Consumers are watching carefully how companies respond; what they’re doing to flatten the curve, how they’re treating their workers, and what they’re doing internally to keep consumers safe. Remaining transparent with both employees and consumers—even if the news is less than ideal—will ensure they feel part of the company’s journey through COVID-19. Practicing these simple guidelines will not only safeguard your company from its own communications crisis, but also continue to build a reputation of consistency, reliability, and accountability that will keep consumers long after this crisis has passed.