[This article was written by Tiffany Harper.]
A global health crisis, such as a pandemic, is always disruptive for businesses. People are losing their buying power, and companies have to lower prices. Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining in all of this for those who know how to act. Brands and enterprises can finally show that they’re human as well and do their part for society. Customer loyalty can be strengthened in troubled times or broken altogether.
In some cases, the lockdowns and scarcity of products due to disruptions in supply chains made people choose other brands than their favorites. A McKinsey report estimated that 75% of Americans had changed their shopping preferences and methods during this period. With these shifts in mind, businesses should try to remain as visible and present as possible so buyers don’t forget them. Brands should stay in eyesight not just through aggressive marketing but socio-economic consciousness. It’s vital to act responsibly in times of need.
Carrying on as nothing ever happened appears tone-deaf while saying too much could seem fake or manipulative. In any case, companies must avoid going incognito above all. For example, take the 1990s when high oil prices strained the economy: businesses that reduced ad marketing saw a 25% reduction in sales. In comparison, those who increased ads spending grew in sales by 50%. Similar trends happened in the economic crisis of 2009.
So if going MIA is not an option, what can businesses do to build and strengthen their brands? How should a company behave in a crisis? The next seven strategies cover some basic ideas on developing a better corporate image in a pandemic.
Offer discounts but don’t appear desperate
A pandemic means that a large portion of the population experiences lower incomes. People shift priorities and spend less on non-essentials. Depending on the industry your in, consider showing some form of price relaxation. Discounts, special offers, coupons, and similar are great options to spur customers into buying your products/services. This way, you’ll show solidarity while still keeping a small profit margin.
It’s also important to not appear desperate or salesy. Market research from the My-assignment.help seems to point out that online shoppers aren’t motivated by lower prices but by the return policy and reviews. That’s why lowering prices may have counterproductive effects. Consumers might think you’re going bankrupt or that your prices were overinflated in the first place.
Shift some resources towards the health crisis
Chipping in by helping affected and underprivileged communities is usually highly appreciated by the public. The positive publicity alone will raise valuable awareness about your efforts. Donated hard cash seems to have the most attractive headlines. Small firms can opt for smaller cash donations and still get local coverage – that might even go national.
Speaking of good media coverage, Ford and G.M. got a ton of praise for producing ventilators and medical equipment. And rightfully so, especially since they acted rather quickly at the beginning of the health crisis.
However, not all firms have the financial power to allocate considerable funds against the pandemic. Nonetheless, small and genuine gestures usually don’t go unnoticed.
Keep it real and inspire hope through authenticity
Companies shouldn’t just chase positive headlines just for the sake of it. People might catch on and deem you unethical and manipulative. The pandemic’s uncertainty put people on alert. Some segments are more watchful and doubtful about world affairs. Growing skepticism is more likely to identify virtue signaling or faking goodwill. Once the customer feels lied and betrayed, there’s no coming back. More so, they’ll even try to seek revenge.
Instead, be genuine with your words and actions. Don’t insult your customer’s intelligence, and he’ll thank you for that. Treating your clients like gullible kids isn’t the way to go, more than ever in a severe global emergency.
Show you care about your employees/collaborators
Now’s the time to back up your claims about treating employees like family. Around 78% of buyers expect businesses to be concerned about their workers’ wellbeing. At a bare minimum, companies should follow the law and place workers under emergency wages guarantee funds, unemployment welfare, or similar financial reliefs. Keep in mind that since the start of the pandemic, 63% of Americans have been living paycheck to paycheck. So, make sure you guarantee the minimum if your company’s reducing hours, restructuring, or closing for the time being.
Some companies that had to let go of several employees helped them get hired elsewhere. Other firms provided food and necessities for workers in need. Enterprises added psychological therapy to help combat lockdown depression and substance abuse.
Improve online customer service through A.I.
Online shopping and food delivery has been skyrocketing during the pandemic. Markets shrunk and moved online, so the competition is high. Customer service is a feature that makes the difference between rival firms. Promptness is essential as 25% of millennials expect a customer service reply in less than 10 minutes. Now’s the time to surpass your competition by adopting an instant AI-powered customer service.
For instance, chatbots are easy-to-install plug-ins that simulate an expert customer service representative available around the clock. Chatbots are highly customizable systems and have a higher conversion rate than traditional methods.
Focus on your most successful products/services
Nobody’s saying you shouldn’t experiment even during a pandemic, but consider concentrating on your best products and services. Following your company’s real purpose might counteract the rocky financial time we’re living in today. Avoid jumping on fads, changing your brand voice, or adopting unorthodox ways of doing business.
Sure, markets vary, and different businesses can experiment more or less than others. For instance, a 3D printing company could quickly adopt new items to sell. In contrast, professional writing services from Easy Essay would find it difficult to change its services drastically. Specialized firms shouldn’t suddenly change their area of expertise from which they’ve gained traction. Alternatively, larger-purpose establishments may have a more significant margin of error in changing their priorities. To play it safe, companies should stick to their niche to avoid market destabilization.
Help bridge social distance norms and add value
Raising awareness about correct procedures to combat the pandemic is a must for the vast majority of enterprises. Both internally and externally, companies should encourage proper hygiene and social distancing norms. Not only is it moral to do so, but also to keep your doors open to customers.
Superficially, all industries are adopting safer ways of doing business – it’s the law. However, the difference is made by companies that add actual value to the conversation. Going that extra mile to ensure safety and consciousness won’t go ignored. There’s nothing more attractive than a company that proves to be ethical in times of need.
Desperate times call for immediate action from businesses around the world. Companies must support both customers and employees by providing financial relief and proactively combat the crisis. Authenticity is critical in providing solutions and establishes trust. Companies shouldn’t stop adapting and improving customer service through AI-powered applications. Most importantly, the industries must realize that everything is connected, and we’re in this together. To prevail, we must all succeed.