The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our way of life, and for businesses, the outbreak has introduced a plethora of new challenges to overcome. Now more than ever, consumers are relying on digital platforms to search for the information they need, and with that comes the need for brands and organisations to deliver that information.
But what is the best way to provide the latest facts, and avoid the spread of misinformation at this critical moment? At the Digital Transformation Festival, Yext managing director Jon Buss sat down with The Drum’s co-Founder and editor-in-chief, Gordon Young, to discuss the trends and advice that the search experience company is giving to its customers.
“Many businesses have had to rapidly change their strategies, and in some cases, their entire business model” said Buss. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an 84% increase in the number of fact updates that are being made in the Yext platform. This indicates that brands are scrambling to deliver answers to their customers questions, and permeate those across all search endpoints.”
Answers across the board
Through its platform, Yext software helps brands to swiftly update their information across approximately 175 applications and search platforms. Whether it needs to update its ‘holiday hours’ to respond to COVID-19, add a business description to provide a personalised update to customers searching, or leverage Google posts to keep people informed, Yext helps brands to quickly make changes across any number of locations, all through a central dashboard.
Acting swiftly, thoughtfully and with accurate information has never been more important. And whilst third-party search endpoints should deliver the latest facts, during a crisis like this many consumers will turn to brand websites in order to gather the latest updates straight from the source.
“At such unprecedented times, search has become more important than ever in delivering information to customers and keeping in touch with the latest from your brand” said Buss. “Whether it's on third-party touchpoints like Google, Apple Maps or Amazon Alexa, or providing updates through your own website, streamlining messages and communicating with your customers in a cohesive way will help to maintain a brand’s reputation and support customers in every way possible”.
Listen to what the customer really wants
Once brands have addressed the critical updates to customers around opening hours and changing operations, the focus should turn to listening. Despite best efforts to proactively communicate what brands believe is top-of-mind for customers, they might actually have new, more specific questions that you might not have considered.
“Brands should start to think about the types of questions that customers are asking. Understanding their intentions and delivering more sophisticated answers in response to a crisis shows your audience that you are in touch with what they need, and thoughtful in your approach” said Buss.
Moving into recovery
Life post peak pandemic is creeping onto the horizon, but Buss advises that it will be a slow transition to normality. “Customers will want to know as much information as possible about the measures that brands are taking to protect the safety of individuals, staff and the wider community” said Buss. “Deploying strategies like FAQs, Google posts, dropdowns and business descriptions will be instrumental in delivering those answers”.
For brands, structuring and curating their information and updates is key to success in moving past this crisis whilst maintaining brand trust. Buss concluded: “Delivering the best possible experience across the entire search ecosystem, be that on third-party sites or your own website, means that you’ll never leave your customers in the dark, especially when they need you the most”.
Try the challenge yourself: https://nowronganswers.com/