As the country and indeed the rest of the world, has become better educated about the importance of minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19, how do businesses strike the balance between communicating too much vs. not enough information? Too much of anything will result in people becoming oversaturated and therefore, not as responsive to messaging whereas on the flip side, no information could be perceived as a lack of care and erode trust.
From a business perspective, consumers will feel reassured that their safety has been considered when they enter a shop or service provider which has well thought out, clear instructions in terms of expectations around social distancing. By demonstrating you are putting the health and safety of customers and staff first, you will go a long way to cementing your reputation of being a good corporate citizen.
Just as you have your own personality, so too does your brand. A common misconception is that your logo is your brand whereas in reality, it is only a piece of the puzzle. Your written tone of voice, customer service approach and referral generated business (to name just a few), all work together to form your brand personality.
If it is important to you to be perceived is as a trusted business, you need to ensure you communicate this in a way that is not only tailored to suit your company, but that is successfully implemented. Inconsistency will erode your brand, as will having restrictions which are then flouted.
Review your messaging
Make sure you regularly review your COVID-19 messaging to ensure it is current and then reflect any changes on your website, socials and your physical workplace (if relevant). This will ensure that there are no contradictions which at a time when things change frequently, could easily happen.
If you have a shop, try to make your social distancing information obvious so people know how many customers can be in the store at once for example. Similarly, ensure there are markers on the floor at the check-out, so people know where to stand. Us humans are adaptable creatures and we have become so used to the social distancing practises, that it really stands out for the wrong reasons if you don’t have any.
Anna Hamill, Senior Writer, WARC, recently noted that brands are returning to basics to build service and trust:
‘’Any ‘sell, sell, sell’ agenda has been largely parked (though of course, any new business is still welcomed). Consumers are, for the most part, simply not interested in pushiness at the moment. They want security and positivity from advertising during COVID-19’’.
Engage staff and customers
Whilst COVID-19 is a serious subject, that doesn’t mean we have to be sombre. Remember to greet all of your customers with a smile, even when answering the phone as this too, is all part of your brand. Ensure staff fully understand how you are responding to COVID-19 and that they reflect this in their interaction with customers. If for example, a conversation was started with someone who was waiting to enter the shop about how annoying it is to have to restrict numbers, it would be wise not to engage in negativity. Whilst it might be inconvenient and you might agree, try to turn it into how great it is that you are able to have the doors open again.
Raja Rajamannar, Chief Executive Officer at Mastercard believes that COVID-19 is a crucial test of brand trust:
‘’This is a time of need, and if you are not friends with consumers at this point in time, they are not going to talk to you later’’.