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How brands support staff during crisis has major impact on consumer trust, study finds

Australians trust in companies and brands could be impacted by the way they take care of their employees and customers during the pandemic, according to a new study.

Research agency Qualtrics said that about 80 per cent of Aussies think it’s important for brands to take care of staff in times of crisis. When respondents were asked what behaviours increase trust during the crisis, taking care of employees was the top ranked attribute (43 per cent), followed by not taking advantage of a crisis (43 per cent), and taking care of customers (40 per cent).

However, the survey showed that messages of hope and optimism (13 per cent) or even statements about strong moral principles (16 per cent) were less important to consumers.

About one-third of respondents said their trust in the brands they regularly engage with has increase since the outbreak. While their trust in the Government also saw a greater increase, with 44 per cent of respondents saying their trust in Federal Government increased and 43 per cent for State Governments.

“Trust has a fundamental role to play as businesses begin to reopen their doors and rebuild operations. In these uncertain times, high levels of trust mean consumers can feel confident in choosing to engage with your brand,” said Lisa Khatri, brand experience and research lead for Qualtrics in APJ.

“While the operational impact of the restrictions is temporary, their influence on consumer behaviours and attitudes will be long lasting. Over the last month we have seen huge changes in the ways consumers engage with brands, and these will continue to evolve each time restrictions change. For businesses to remain relevant, they need to keep a pulse on consumer behaviour, drivers of brand preference, and how their actions at each stage can positively influence how the brand is viewed.      

The survey shows how brand actions can affect brand trust for almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of respondents. Just 8 per cent said brand actions had no impact.

Australians want brands to communicate with them via email as the top channel (59 per cent), through TV ads (48 per cent) and Facebook (36 per cent).

“Social distancing restrictions have limited the ways businesses can interact with their consumers, which means regular and effective communications through traditional channels is critical to keeping people engaged. For communications to be effective however, brands need to find a balance in how often they are communicating and the topics being discussed. This approach actively demonstrates the value brands bring to keep their customers’ attention in rapidly changing markets,” she added.

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