3 ways manufacturers can regain customer trust following Brexit

August 4, 2016

A new report suggests that confidence among manufacturers has slumped since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. However, a lack of confidence about the future is not conducive to building trust with customers.

That’s not to say you should give customers a false impression. But there is an opportunity to stand out amongst the doom and gloom with realistic and positive messages.

Back to the report for a minute. Produced by manufacturing lobby group EEF alongside accountancy firm BDO, it revealed that manufacturers' average confidence score dropped to 5.24 after the referendum from 6.37 before the vote.

Commenting on the report, Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF said: "The Brexit vote has put the manufacturing sector's recovery in jeopardy. The growth path is now uncertain in all regions.”

However, we should be careful not to overstate the impact of Brexit, according to EEF’s North-East director Liz Mayes.

She said that while the referendum outcome “provided a jolt”, the manufacturing industry – in the North-East especially – remains a “force to be reckoned with”.

It’s this sort of positivity that you would do well to reflect and support, while others are still bemoaning the British public’s decision to plunge the country into uncertainty.

In order to inspire customer trust in your industry and your business, however, you will have to do more than just tell them “everything is going to be just fine”.

Here is how to establish trust, at a time when people don’t know who to believe:

1. Be honest and authentic

If there’s one thing that customers hate, it’s businesses trying to pull the wool over their eyes in order to make a sale. It’s patently obvious to people that Brexit has shaken up industries and markets in a way that we don’t see very often – don’t try to tell people that nothing has changed and that they should just carry on as normal. I could say here that if you’re a politician it seems par for the course to peddle lies and half-truths, but that would take this piece into well-trodden territory and not what an authentic organisation should be doing.

The landscape has changed for all sorts of businesses, and it’s crucial you acknowledge that. Firms are now weighing up whether to follow through with those projects in the pipeline. It’s down to you to offer some reassurance with positive messages that are based upon stats and facts.

When delivering those messages, do so in an authentic, non-salesy way. Don’t give your customers the impression you’re just telling them what they want to hear; try to come across as perceptive and informed, instead.

The same applies when communicating internally with your employees – tell it how it is but present a vision they can get behind. After all, they’re the ones who are speaking to customers on a day-to-day basis. If they don’t buy into your organisation’s vision, what chance do your customers have?

2. Create helpful content resources

Brexit might have introduced some added pain points for your customers. Whilst what you’re offering might not be able to solve those pain points completely, you still have the opportunity to help your customers overcome them, in the form of helpful content.

While this type of content won’t necessarily show the benefit of your product or service, it will show your business to be insightful. Showing your manufacturing firm to be perceptive is a great way to build trust with your customers.

Use your blog to explore the current issues that matter most to your buyer personas, offering answers that are fitting to the problem at hand, rather than just trying to position your business as the only solution.

3. Better understand your audience

Knowing your customers – who they are, what they do, how they like to spend their time – allows you to speak to them as individuals, not just numbers in a database. However, this personalised approach requires the right system, i.e. it can interpret the swathes of customer data and present it as insight.

Personalised communication makes customers feel valued and respected and makes your business seem more approachable and trustworthy.

Meanwhile, gaining a better understanding of your audience will help ensure the content that you’re creating is in tune with what your customers are searching for online, which should also drive up engagement.

It remains to be seen whether Brexit will prove to be a good thing for the manufacturing industry. The early signs – such as EEF’s report – suggest it won’t, but it’s only natural to be pessimistic when there’s so much uncertainty swirling about the economy. There will definitely be winners and losers and following these 3 simple ideas can help you make sure you are amongst the winners.

Instead of adding to this uncertainty, we must begin to offer some pragmatism; some solutions. Only then will your clients start to trust that the economy is settling down to something representing normality again and that new projects can be commenced.  

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director