Consumer Loyalty Is Up for Grabs—What Are You Doing to Retain Customers?

4 ways to build and maintain brand trust during challenging times

Covid-19 dramatically changed the way consumers interact with brands, and the impact may last far beyond the pandemic. A McKinsey report found that over 75% of consumers have tried new brands since the start of the pandemic, indicating that brands are facing a dip in loyalty.

Trust has become the paramount value proposition for brands that want to succeed in today’s volatile market. Companies need to prioritize building confidence, reliability and consistency into the customer experience to remain competitive and retain their customers.

With consumer loyalty up for grabs now more than ever, here are four priorities brands can focus on to retain customers during challenging times and beyond.

Be consistent

During a time of so much uncertainty, the one thing consumers should be able to rely on is a consistent customer experience. As CX expert Shep Hyken said, “I want to predict the experience I’m going to have with the people and places I do business with.”

This type of “good monotony,” as Hyken calls it, should extend to every part of the brand experience, including browsing online or in-person, making purchases, customer service, returns and more. When customers associate a brand with an experience that is predictable and always positive, they’re likely to become a repeat customer.

Show compassion

Most people are still contending with some kind of challenge related to the pandemic. Brands must continue to empathize with their customers by providing them with useful deals, satisfaction guarantees and hassle-free returns.

The airline industry is a great example of this. Using customer feedback to guide their strategy, airlines implemented new policies to make travel easier and safer for their customers. Many waved their flight change fees (some for good), implemented stringent cleaning procedures and reduced their booking capacity.

Simple moves like enacting new safety protocols and fee forgiveness go a long way toward giving customers some peace of mind.

Keep the lines of communication open

Due to the continuing impact of Covid-19, things are constantly in flux. Something that can greatly ease these uncertainties is maintaining clear and frequent communication throughout the customer experience.

In addition to proactive communication, it’s critical that companies are responsive and available when customers come to them with questions. Customers need to be able to get timely answers and up-to-date information quickly to build trust with brands.

Optimize your digital channels

Consumers are not only turning to online retailers in greater numbers, but also making more purchases at a greater frequency. Given this shift, it’s critical that businesses ensure their digital channels are equipped to handle demand.

There’s no easier way to lose a customer than hard-to-navigate web pages, bugs during checkout or a shopping experience that isn’t optimized across all devices. With face-to-face interaction still infrequent, it’s important to meet customers on the channel of their choice and provide the same (or better) quality of experience as pre-pandemic. The 2020 EY Future Consumer Index found that globally, 37% of consumers believe the way they shop will change over the long-term and 39% say they will shop more online for things they used to buy in stores.

By keeping the points above in mind, brands can have the best chance at keeping their customers loyal and happy, even during turbulent times.

Janelle Estes is an expert research practitioner fascinated by human behavior and intrigued by data insight. She brings over 15 years’ experience conducting large-scale customer research initiatives for both b-to-c and b-to-b companies across a variety of industries to help them transform their customer, user and brand experiences.