COVID-19 has taken over the world by storm, causing even multimillion enterprises to shut their doors once and for all. Following quarantine protocols, all businesses, sizeable and starting, had been driven to come up with new ways to ensure survival in the marketplace.
Maintaining a clean track record is a must in all types of businesses, and COVID-19 will either be the breaking point for a brand’s reputation or the saving grace that would keep their business thriving amidst the crisis.
It’s always important to keep in mind that decisions made half-heartedly and purely driven by profit may damage your brand’s reputation, whereas involving your brand in the betterment of society can and will build a stronger foundation for your company in the eyes of the public.
That said, here are 5 tips to keep in mind to foster digital trust and protect your brand’s image in these tough times.
Comply with the law wholeheartedly
With communities all over the world struggling to cope with this unprecedented disaster, following government orders and guidelines is the least you could do to help stop the spread of disease.
Expressing negative criticism in public to argue and negotiate with the government just so they could allow your business to operate in the middle of a global pandemic is not a good indicator that you truly understand the pandemic and its effects.
All business owners must be aware that the health and safety of their employees, as well as their consumers, are of utmost importance. Failure or hesitance to fully comply with the guidelines set by the authorities in your locality could tarnish your brand’s reputation for good.
Show empathy for your employees
Manpower is needed to keep an enterprise going. People are your most valuable asset. Your employees and staff are the ones who contribute the most to the growth of your business. As such, showing care and empathy and extending a helping hand to your employees when needed will go a long way.
Satisfied employees are your company’s best ambassadors, boasting nothing but good news about your business to everyone they meet. On the other hand, employees who hold a grudge against a business owner or manager could be your worst enemy. One negative remark from them can tick multiple bombs on a company’s reputation.
More than ever, people have all the time in the world to engage in social media. In general, people are spending more time scrolling their feeds to check what is happening in their communities and the rest of the world. Just one viral post on social media about corporate malpractice from a disgruntled employee, and you’re pretty much toast.
Adapt to the new normal
“Business as usual” is now a thing of the past. Even with stay-at-home orders rescinded and quarantine protocols lifted, how consumers shop for products and services just isn’t the same.
Some enterprises seem to have gotten a strong grip on the new normal, retaining good relationships with their existing clients while engaging new ones through innovative marketing strategies.
However, not all business owners are capable of retaining their clients. Small businesses suffer more because it’s much harder for them to change the way they operate overnight. With that in mind, it’s important to work on customer communications while formulating a fool-proof plan on how to adjust to the new normal.
Play nice and be flexible
During times like this where people are more cautious about where they put their money, being extra accommodating when it comes to returns and refunds might be a loss of income, but it will certainly be a win for your brand’s digital trust and reputation. Do not refuse refunds or charge unreasonable fees for situations that your customers are unable to change.
A Goliath in the market, Apple is one of the first few companies to act quickly in extending the period in which customers may return products in their stores. Unsurprisingly, they garnered positive feedback for this decision.
Clearly, the businesses that offer the best terms and the most flexibility to their clients, even if it meant suffering from losses, will be the ones to receive the most positive responses from the public. It might hurt your profit books for now, but the boost in reputation and brand image should pay off in the long run.
Taking the initiative to offer refunds and discounts to your clients will let the public know that your brand’s priority is the people and not the profit. Brands that practice social responsibility and utmost fairness are more successful in putting their clients’ minds at ease, making the company even more trustworthy.
Pay it forward
Pandemic or not, it’s always easier to maintain relationships with existing clients than it is to gain new customers. This holds especially true these days.
However, this crisis presents unique opportunities that you can use to reach new people and gain new customers. By paying it forward and giving back to the community, you might be able to win a few people over and gain new fans for your brand.
Not only are you actually contributing to the greater good, but you’re also appealing to people’s natural instincts to band together during a crisis. Brands who are seen as “contributors” naturally gain the favor of the general public. Conversely, companies that are obviously focusing solely on preserving sales and maximizing profits are seen as cold and unfriendly.
At the moment, it goes without saying that businesses have a lot on their plate: operational changes, revenue loss, logistics issues… the list goes on. However, they must not forget about their brand’s reputation, which is more public than ever due to the rise of social media marketing.
Businesses that have a warm, generous, and positive response to the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to survive the storm with their reputation and image unscathed. Brands that put in the effort to cater to the needs of their new clients, as well as to maintain healthy relationships with their recurring ones, are resilient to any disaster that threatens the reputation of their brand. In the same light, businesses that treat their customers unprofessionally and put on a mediocre performance on their platforms will most likely suffer from the loss of clients and revenue.