The new coronavirus is spreading fast and has already infected millions of people across the world.
As the global coronavirus crisis continues, many countries are going into lockdown to protect their people, and many businesses, big or small, are starting to suffer from the economic uncertainty.
While some companies now have products in high demand, others are taking a hit, and quarantine restrictions are keeping customers away from brick and mortar stores.
Before the restrictions were even implemented, 52% of consumers said they were avoiding crowds and 32% said they left their house less often because of coronavirus. Now that the lockdowns have started, it’s safe to say consumers are more likely to be doing most of their shopping online over the next couple of weeks or months.
A Trustpilot and Canvas8 research found that so far, this year, global trust declined by 11%, while only 71% of people admitted they trust consumer brands.
Online shoppers might be concerned about purchasing from brands they’ve never heard of, or engaged with before, and shoppers are therefore more likely to be looking for signs of trust and credibility in online reviews when purchasing online, especially now.
How trusted reviews can help you cope in times of uncertainty
1. Consumers want to engage with brands who care
How do you define good customer service?
Stellar customer service means caring enough about what your customers need and want in order to be satisfied, and always going the extra mile to make sure they’ve had the best experience possible from the beginning until the end.
In uncertain times, the little things a business does to improve their customers’ lives can go a long way. As most of the shopping will be done online over the next couple of weeks or months, customer service is likely to become one of the most important things consumers look at when comparing different brands online.
Consumers will also be looking for information on how you’re dealing with coronavirus, and the level of customer service you’re providing in this difficult time.
Did you know that 89% of global consumers usually check online reviews as part of their online buying journey, and 49% of global consumers consider positive reviews one of their top 3 purchase influences?
In times like this, shoppers are likely to be reading more online reviews than usual before engaging with any businesses. By continuing to manage your company’s reputation with online reviews, you’re ensuring that your existing customers are all satisfied with the level of service you’re currently delivering, and happy to refer you to potential customers.
2. Online shoppers are looking for answers to their questions
In difficult times, consumers are likely to be asking detailed questions to find out more about your company’s process and operations. Some of the most common questions could be:
How and where are your products made?
Are they safely packaged? Can I catch the virus from your packaging?
When can I expect my delivery?
Will there be a shipping delay due to COVID-19?
Where will my order be shipped from?
It’s fair to say that when it comes to answering your customers’ questions, transparency and honesty is essential. Customers might come to you directly to get detailed answers, but they might also look for extra information, reassurance and validation by reading reviews from their peers.
To reassure shoppers and build more trust, WHO, the “World Health Organization”, encourages businesses to remind their customers that it is safe to receive a package from an area where COVID-19 has been reported. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, has travelled, and has been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
We spoke to Sam Holden, Chief Commercial Office at Yodel, to understand what changes they've made to keep customers up-to-date in these uncertain times:
"During COVID-19 and lockdown, home delivery has become an important part of supporting the public in their efforts to stay at home. Over the past 8 weeks, Yodel has seen parcel volumes similar to those around Black Friday and the lead up to Christmas. With this unforeseen peak, it would have been
easy for us to panic and not deliver the great service that our clients and their customers expect. A key part of our strategy to maintain this service was to very early on, communicate delivery updates to both clients and customers that might be seen. Through collaborative working with clients, we were able to set realistic delivery promises for their customers, ensuring shoppers were kept up to date about their parcel’s journey. Communication has played an important role in reassuring customers that their doorstep experience would be safe. At a time when social distancing was becoming a part of everyday life, our delivery experience had to match up, which is why we created a COVID-19 process. Now, drivers can leave parcels on doorsteps for customers to pick up, whilst they remain at a safe distance, and when a signature is required, we have created a new scan option to acknowledge a successful delivery, without the customer needing to touch the driver’s signature-catching device. Trustpilot has been a great platform for us to gauge how the public has reacted to these changes and help us shape our delivery service as the weeks have passed by."
In uncertain times, you should also expect consumers to be looking for more reassurance than usual, so it's important to keep managing your reviews, and keep responding to feedback.
"We have seen an influx of reviews as our frontline colleagues deliver parcels, enabling the general public to stay at home. Over this time, we have seen our Trustscore increase to 4.3 and achieve an Excellent rating. Customers have come to rely on their local couriers to receive the essentials such as food, plus those extra items needed to make lockdown easier. Reflecting this, we have seen a change in the types of parcels being delivered, with the number of flowers being delivered up by 500% and over 100,000 items of garden furniture delivered over the past 8 weeks. It's really important to keep calm, carry on and communicate as much as possible. Online reviews are a great way to check that all of your best laid plans are working and providing your customers with the great service that they expect," explains Sam Holden.
Yodel reminds us all that over communicating is better than under communicating - indeed, 64% of global consumers would prefer to buy from a responsive company. Remember, people seek honesty and transparency, not perfection.
3. Selling hard is the last thing businesses should be doing
In times of uncertainty, many businesses will naturally be looking to advertise more in order to keep their revenue stable. But coming across as intrusive or pushy is one of the last things you want to do right now.
Today, 91% of people say ads are more intrusive than 3 years ago.
The best form of marketing a business can partake in during uncertain times is trustworthy social proof and third-party validation. In short, let your customers do the talking, because their opinion is more likely to be heard and considered by their peers.
Indeed, today’s buyers trust customers more than they trust companies. When marketers harness social proof, it can drive more leads than when a business says “we’re the best brand out there”.
According to HubSpot, 69.5% of companies already admit that reviews, social proof and word-of-mouth directly generate revenue.
Showcasing your reviews throughout the consumer journey is a less intrusive way of building trust with potential consumers. So reconsider selling hard, and let the voice of the customer build the confidence everyone needs today.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, companies will likely be facing more customer engagement issues in the coming months. Trust, reviews, and reputation management are three of the most important tools to help your business cope during difficult times. If you’d like to learn more about the state of reviews and trust in 2020, you can download a free copy of our newest report below.