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Trust = A Path Forward for Small Business

Two wars are being waged on COVID-19 – controlling the spread of the virus and minimizing the economic impact of the pandemic. This two-front battle is critical for many small business owners forced to balance safety and health with keeping businesses open and running.

So how do some businesses thrive amidst chaos and uncertainty? One key answer is trust. With increasing customer demand, unpredictability across the market, and intensified competition – many firms scramble to survive. The stories of resilient, honest, and innovative business owners across North America continue to inspire and create hope for a brighter future in a post-COVID world.

To help capture these success stories and shine the light on new challenges, the Better Business Bureau conducted a recent pulse survey with nearly 1,000 BBB Accredited Businesses. Of those surveyed, 62% of companies said they never had to close their doors since the outbreak of the pandemic.

And while the economic outlook appears rosier now than it did a few months earlier, the road to recovery will be challenging and demanding. It could take five years for a business to get back to 2019 levels, according to a model conducted by McKinsey Global Institute and Oxford Economics.

Cutting costs and taking advantage of financial federal assistance programs certainly helped businesses weather the storm. Nearly three-quarters of the firms who applied for assistance said they received funds. Cash flow, health and safety, and meeting customer expectations are the top challenges facing BBB Accredited Businesses. And while the perceived impact over the next 60 days is lower than when we asked the same question in March, companies are identifying new opportunities to keep their doors open.

Skylar Travel in Alaska had to shut down all operations in March because of the pandemic, but the owner Jin Chen used it to help her community. She created an online supply sharing group, where she used her tour guides to deliver essential supplies to the community members. Check out the full story on BBB’s YouTube page.

Nearly a quarter of the businesses surveyed say instilling customer trust is going to be a challenge moving forward – but also an opportunity. By creating stronger relationships with customers and providing support to the community, businesses are in the driver seat to deliver an even better user experience.

BBB Accredited Businesses that commit to meeting the BBB Standards for Trust saw considerably more online engagement on BBB.org than non-accredited companies, including website visits, email clicks, and customer reviews.

Of those surveyed, 42% of businesses say the most significant way they are building trust is by increasing communication with customers, followed by health and safety protocols, and offering financial discounts. Operating a business with integrity is even more critical now to business owners than it was pre-COVID-19.

Although the pandemic is far from over, many businesses are focused on how to make the second half of 2020 a success. Attracting customers, building relationships, and supporting the community are the top takeaways for small business owners surveyed by BBB.

No one knows what the future holds, but if the last few months are any indicator, businesses can get on the right track and be better prepared to meet new customer demands and establish trust. Here are some ideas:

  1. Create/ update business profile -With over 108 million customer inquiries at BBB.org so far this year, businesses can get in front of more customers by being listed in the BBB Directory. As a BBB Accredited Business, you can optimize your business profile page and have access to the BBB Accreditation Seal, making it easier for customers to find and trust you.
  2. Communicate with your customers – By being transparent and responsive, businesses can gain a greater understanding of their customers and their needs. BBB Accredited Businesses make a commitment to do both – establishing trust and value in the marketplace.
  3. Embrace the BBB Standards for Trust – Trust is a cornerstone of any successful business and at the core of BBB. Differentiate your business from others by embracing BBB’s eight standards, and give your customers an added level of trust and confidence before and after purchase.
  4. Support the Community – Businesses that reinvest and give back to their communities commit to their customers and their families. Giving can open many doors and is often a critical step in building trust.
  5. Market your Accreditation – The need for trust has never been greater. Get in front of customers by marketing your accreditation and ensuring your business’s commitment to building trust. With more than 400,000 BBB Accredited Business across North America, now is a prime time to consider BBB Accreditation for your business.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small business is astounding.  In trying times, companies often come out ahead by refocusing their priorities and making trust a long-term play in building a better business.

From transforming your brick-and-mortar store to an online experience or changing your business model to address your customers’ needs, many companies must reinvent themselves to survive.  And while the economic outlook may not be as gloomy as initially thought – the road to recovery could take a while.

Customer needs are changing, and businesses must meet the demand. With more people going online to shop and research businesses – the trust factor has never been more critical. Investing in your business and revaluating your values can be a significant first step in coming out of the pandemic ahead.

Don’t take our word for it! Hear from BBB Accredited Businesses who happily share their success stories in hopes of creating a better world. BBB is committed to providing guidance to all businesses impacted by the pandemic and transitioning to new business models and a changing environment.

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Written by Sheron Patrick

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