2013-03-14 12:29:47 - After yet another food incident, the well-known European horsemeat scandal, it’s becoming increasingly clear that consumers are losing trust in the international food industry. International freephone numbers are an excellent tool to regain this trust and bring back clarity to this complex industry.
The European horsemeat scandal initially started out as a case of fraudulent food labelling in the UK and Ireland, but quickly developed into a Europe-wide discussion on the complexity and opacity of the international food industry. In this intricate web of suppliers, manufacturers and other food processors it almost impossible to see who is responsible and which companies or products may have been affected. As answers to these questions remain obscure, consumers are losing trust in the entire sector. In the process of regaining this trust and recovering brand images, it is important to bring back clarity and transparency to this industry.
In case of food scandals and loss of customer trust, financial damage quickly follows. Indeed, only this week,
the Irish food group Greencore reported a 30-40% decrease in the sales of its ready meals in the UK over the course of February as a result of the horsemeat scandal. Other companies experience similar setbacks. Branding experts agree that the future of food manufacturers and retailers, including Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Nestlé etc., depends on how these companies will respond to the fallout of the scandal. Apologising, as many companies have already done, is definitely an important first step. But, how to convince people that you have learned from the experience and will henceforth be completely transparent? How do you show that you are genuinely interested in consumer satisfaction and open to customer feedback? With new food scandals lurking on the horizon, for instance in Germany and the Netherlands, where there have been reports of excessive toxin levels in animal feed and milk, the answer to these questions can already be put into practice.
A very practical instrument to help you regain customer trust is a toll-free hotline. “A toll-free telephone number ( www.teleforwarding.co.uk/0800
) supports fast and efficient communication and invites consumers to contact your company. This will allow you to reassure them and take away any concerns, but it also helps you to demonstrate that you are there for your clients and customers, that you care enough for their concerns to answer them directly”, claims Hans Lasonder, CEO of TeleForwarding International. “Moreover”, Lasonder adds, “by directly communicating with your clients and customers you have more control of their reactions than with other communication options offered by web and social media. By answering questions in a personal conversation, you can prevent people from complaining on social media platforms where discussions will quickly grow beyond your control. With the small investment required for a toll-free number you will thus be able to limit the damage of recall actions and improve customer satisfaction.”
Lasonder is very happy to see that some players in the food industry already offer national toll-free hotlines on their websites in order to support the consumer’s need for information. However, according to Lasonder, a universal +800 toll-free number will create even more transparency in this complex international industry. Lasonder explains: “With a +800 toll-free number, also known as a UIFN number ( www.teleforwarding.co.uk/00800
), your company is accessible to all its clients worldwide via one single, unique phone number which allows you to create a clear and unified image for your company. The food industry, moreover, is increasingly driven by international cooperation, and manufactures products that are consumed on a daily basis and thereby influence people’s health (both positively and negatively) on a daily basis as well. When such a complex and important industry comes to deal with a damaged reputation, it makes a world of difference if your company can always be reached via one single freephone hotline”, says Lasonder, “even more so if you are available 24/7 and able to answer people in their own language, which is very easy to achieve with international call routing and IVR options. Thus, you show your customers you are always there for them, which will certainly create and regain their trust.”
But, doesn’t this sound a bit like a miracle cure? “Of course”, Lasonder says, “a universal toll-free number will not miraculously solve all the problems the food industry is currently facing, but it does allow you to set yourself apart from the competition and gives you the positive and stable image of a transparent, service-minded and customer focused brand. And these are exactly the values the food industry currently needs. Thereby, toll-free numbers are an important instrument in regaining and keeping your customer’s trust, so that your organisation can maintain a strong corporate image, now and in the future.” Thus, a close partnership between the food industry and international telecommunications seems an important step towards going beyond the horsemeat scandal.
Do you also want to regain your customer’s trust and strengthen your corporate image with international toll-free numbers? Take a look at our website, www.teleforwarding.co.uk
for further information or call us, toll-free, at +800 – 00123456.