A consumer survey by Trustpilot found that 1 in 5 people say their trust in businesses has decreased since the outbreak. Online shoppers are rightfully concerned about purchasing from brands they’ve never heard of, or engaged with, and are therefore more in need of signs of trust and credibility than ever before.
Evaluate unfamiliar businesses based on transparency
During times of crisis, businesses should be taking extra care to address your questions and concerns, and going the extra mile to make sure you’ve had the best experience possible from the beginning until the end. We’ve seen many examples of businesses going above and beyond to serve their customers during this time, but we also know that there is still much uncertainty around experiences with new businesses.
As much shopping is being done online at the moment, businesses who are meeting the bare minimum in terms of service and transparency aren’t the businesses we trust.
Right now, we are all more discerning than usual and are asking detailed questions to find out more about a business’s process and operations. Those questions include:
- Are items I buy online safely packaged? Can I catch the virus from packaging?
- When can I expect my delivery and will there be a shipping delay due to COVID-19?
What other steps is a business taking to protect me and my loved ones?
Trustworthy businesses are answering these questions honestly and providing transparency around their supply chain and operations. However, as we seek reassurance in businesses, it’s worth considering that many are under immense pressure to adapt quickly, often with reduced staffing levels, and may have a few missteps along the way. When businesses communicate these missteps honestly and let consumers know how they are correcting their mistakes, this is a sign of trustworthiness. In general, businesses that are over communicating are likely more trustworthy than businesses that are under communicating.
Be weary of exploitative business practices
It is inevitable that some businesses will benefit in times of crisis or panic. On Trustpilot, we immediately saw an increase in searches for businesses in categories like courier services, hobby stores, and furniture stores. And while these businesses have certainly enjoyed an uptick in business since the outbreak of COVID-19, they can’t be accused of acting exploitatively.
But some businesses have taken advantage of the situation to aggressively push their products or services. Many may be advertising more in order to keep their revenue stable, but businesses that are overly intrusive or pushy, or even worse, using scare tactics or fear-mongering to push their products, are ones consumers should be wary of.
The rise in many COVID-19-related scams is also something consumers should be on the lookout for. Companies claiming to sell cheap or quick testing kits, preventatives, or cures should be thoroughly vetted and, if not explicitly approved by a credible government agency, should be avoided.
Finally, take a look at how businesses are treating their employees. This will tell you a lot about how a company values people...both employees and consumers. Questions to explore are:
- How are they treating their employees during this time?
- Has the business communicated how employees are being kept safe?
- What happens if an employee gets COVID-19?
If a business has an open brick and mortar location, what is being done to keep the employees and customers safe?
Businesses should be able to answer these questions clearly and honestly. If a business is prioritizing ‘business as usual’ over employee safety, it’s fair to ask whether they care about keeping their customers safe too.
Find reassurance in reviews
We are all looking for more reassurance than usual and reading reviews on an open review platform like Trustpilot is one of the best ways for consumers to verify a business’s credibility in uncertain times. Reviews provide trustworthy social proof so you don’t have to take what a business says for granted.
Discerning consumers often unveil truths about a business’s practices and whether they are living up to their promises, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Consumers who have been subjected to COVID-19-related scams, as well as those with important insights about a business gained through their experiences, often share these with the Trustpilot community.
The importance of an open review platform in a time of COVID-19 and social distancing cannot be understated when it comes to verifying businesses’ trustworthiness. Looking at a collective network of feedback can help you find the trustworthy companies you need so that you can buy with confidence during uncertain times.
If you’ve had an experience with a new business, let others know about it by leaving a review on Trustpilot. If you have questions about how Trustpilot is responding to COVID-19, you can read about how Trustpilot is committed to keeping its employees, businesses, and consumers safe here.