We’ve all heard the phrase, “actions speak louder than words,” but when it comes to brands reopening and navigating through the effects of COVID-19, the idea rings true. Business owners know that gaining and maintaining a consumer’s trust is paramount to success, and once that trust is broken it can take a lot of effort to rebuild. Now that states have allowed businesses to reopen it will be interesting to see which large companies have kept their consumers’ trust, and possibly earned more trust due to how they’ve reacted to the current crisis. But, more interesting is what small and medium-sized businesses will do to show consumers the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of patrons and employees.

A recent brand sentiment study by Morning Consult, shows that 88 percent of consumers agree or somewhat agree that they are more likely to purchase from companies that offer a clean and safe store environment. To fall into this trusted category, businesses must make sure they’re following guidelines for social distancing, and attempting to curb the spread of the virus. This task is done through regular cleanings, plenty of hand sanitizer, the use of face coverings, masks or other means that try and prevent the spread of germs.

Favorable viewing

In addition to safety, consumers are noticing how brands treat others within the community. The study shows that:

  • 87 percent of consumers have a more favorable view of businesses that provide extra shopping hours for seniors and those who are immunocompromised
  • 85 percent of consumers have a favorably viewing of businesses that offer flexible schedules for parents and caregivers
  • 85 percent of consumers favorably view businesses that promise to rehire employees that were laid off

More likely to purchase products/services

It’s one thing to view a company favorably, but another to purchase a product or service, especially when many families are keeping a closer watch on spending. The survey shows that:

  • 66 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase goods from companies that offer designated shopping hours for seniors and the immunocompromised
  • 65 percent of consumers more likely to patron businesses that provide employees with paid sick time
  • 64 percent promise to rehire employees who were laid off
  • 64 percent offer solutions to make social distancing easier

Think about what your favorite brands have been doing the past few months and if they fall into any of these categories. As business plans are revised, think about what your company is doing to address these areas.

Who are our leaders?

As the country progresses through the pandemic and governments and businesses navigate into a “new normal,” it’s important to recognize who consumers trust to lead the way. The top four leaders consumers trust, according to the survey, include:

  • 65 percent trust local government
  • 64 percent trust state government
  • 62 percent trust small businesses
  • 61 percent trust small business owners

Small businesses and their owners have a lot of power as communities reopen, and in many cases the community and patrons are doing their best to support these brands to keep them open. The next several months will be difficult, but by following safety guidelines, brands have an opportunity to not only maintain their consumers’ trust, but also grow their business to consumers who are looking for companies that keep them safe.

As you run errands, think about what businesses make you feel most comfortable right now. Is it those where all employees are wearing face coverings? Or maybe its companies that are doing an excellent job at curbside pickup. Think about what makes you feel comfortable and if there are ways to bring that comfort level into your business.

Personally, over the past two months, I’ve visited two separate home improvement stores (one large and one medium sized) and a fast-food chain. Of all three, I feel most safe getting take out from the fast-food restaurant, as the owners installed plexiglass over the drive-thru windows, have all employees wearing masks and all visible employees wearing gloves. This establishment even posted their new hand washing and temperature taking guidelines to social media along with pictures of their upgraded hand washing station. These acts proved to me the owners take the pandemic seriously and want consumers to trust that the food they’re receiving is being served in the safest environment possible.

Helping consumers maintain social distance and following through on safety recommendations won’t be easy. Please share what tips you have for other businesses adjusting how business is conducted.