Over the past 12 months, UK consumers have lost trust in banks, media and politicians. The recent contamination of the food supply chain has become the latest addition to the list of consumer worries.
Clearly there isn’t much more customer trust and goodwill to go around. At the same time, businesses have faced growing pressure from politicians into how they conduct their operations and have been expected to operate on the basis of what’s considered fair – a notion that businesses should make the right moral choices and not simply rely on those that are legally required. What does this mean for the way businesses communicate?
Well, there are no longer ‘off the shelf’ template solutions! Companies need to be prepared to make bold decisions quickly and seek qualified advice from a combination of legal and communications consultants as they do it.
The minute there are questions over the company’s activity, consumers need to know where it stands, that it’s in control over the situation and can fix any problems quickly. Now even more than before, it is important to be proactive and open should any issues arise in order to retain consumer trust.
Here are five crucial steps to action:
- Review regularly – Regular auditing of brand perception will help to assess threats and weaknesses – give you some foresight around areas to watch and emerging risks.
- Show empathy – It is important to update your audiences on a regular basis and act to show that the safety and well-being of your customers is your number one priority.
- Talk naturally – Consumers tend to respond badly to overwrought messages that sound too corporate or too familiar online.
- Act fast – The first 24 hours of a crisis are when people are turning to each other for answers. Be ready to respond.
- Become the hub of the issue – Since you know that people are looking for information on a topic, become the hub of all information. While you can’t control the conversation, make sure your opinion is prominently seen and demonstrates authority.
This bolder and more open approach will help companies retain consumer confidence and aid a speedy recovery.