This Pandemic Has Rocked The Foundation of Customer Trust
The consumer confidence index is a way to measure consumer optimism in the health and well-being of the US economy. Optimism is expressed by customers’ behaviors and their willingness to spend money on products and services. Basically, the consumer confidence index measures how much customers trust business.
For decades, there has been a standard model that businesses follow to build loyalty, confidence, and trust. The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the foundation of customer trust. While it’s hoped that this is a temporary situation, it must be accepted that people are scared and anxiety levels are high.
As a business owner, you have two options when facing changes in customer trust. Option one is to try to react to the crisis by following the lead of others and hoping that by following the pack you will stumble across ways to regain your customer’s trust. Option two is for you to be a leader and show that you understand your customers’ needs like no one else.
Leadership will mean different things in different industries. It could mean adjusting your pricing, changing your policies, being flexible on accepting refunds, and taking other steps that might produce a short-term hit on your bottom line but in the long term will improve customer confidence and strengthen the health of your company.
The following are a few practical suggestions that you can use to manage your customers during this challenging situation.
Stay True to Your Brand
In times of uncertainty, people are turned off by things that appear fake. Every interaction that you have with your customers is a way for you to prove that you are true to your brand and identity. Your customers are watching, and they are going to make decisions about you based on your response.
For example, if your organization has consistently branded itself as an organization that puts people ahead of profits, now is the time to show it. With retail spaces and restaurants, the way to show this is by limiting the number of people you will allow inside the building during peak hours. Keep customers or restaurant tables at least six feet apart from each other.
This is going to impact your bottom line in the short term. However, if nervous customers enter your facility and because you have taken the proper precautions they feel comfortable, they are more likely to come back and to tell others about their experience. The goodwill garnered now will benefit your organization when things return to normal.
Communicate with Your Customers
Talk to your customers and let them know that you appreciate them frequenting your establishment. Now is not the time to use communication as a way of mustering up more sales. Now is the time to show appreciation for the fact that customers are buying from you. Working closely with your loyal customers will help to forge strong relationships and bonds that will endure for years.
Much of what you communicate will be nonverbal. For example, your employees should be seen disinfecting surfaces after every contact. If you are a restaurant owner, this would include disinfecting salt and pepper shakers, tablecloths, and condiments.
In a retail space, you may have an employee using a spray bottle that is clearly marked as a disinfectant. This sends a signal to your customers that you are concerned about their health and well-being and are willing to use your resources to see to it that they are safe.
Retail spaces can offer hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, masks, and disposable gloves at the entrance to all who enter free of charge. Employees who come in frequent contact with customers should be seen washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, and wearing PPE that is clean and in good repair.
Partner with Others
Your goal is to care for your loyal customers. This may mean that you will temporarily team up with your competitors. You may put your resources together to do things that are good for the local community where your business operates. For example, if your organization runs out of inventory of an essential product, you may need to source it from a competitor so that when your customers come into your store, you have what they need. This will help maintain their trust and confidence.
In this time of crisis, smart organizations look ahead to the future. This is not the first time that the business world has faced a crisis, and it will not be the last. The initiatives that you put into place now will give your organization momentum as the world comes out of COVID-19.
Temporary financial setbacks that you may experience now will lead to long-term growth if these losses are made to let your customers know how important they are to you. If you put the interest, safety, and well-being of your customers first, they will reward you with long-term loyalty and trust.