Businesses survive or fail based on their ability to attract and retain customers since this is the most important form of cash for the business. Revenue doesn’t require interest or repayment, nor must you receive approval from anyone except your customers to generate revenue. A critical aspect of generating revenue from customers involves building a trusting relationship with your target audience. Data shows that trust is one of the top factors impacting customers’ choice of a brand. A recent report published in Marketing Charts shows that 80% of consumers make a purchase decision based on their trust that the organization will do the right thing. This same article shows results that 75% of global consumers, and 80% of US consumers, use trust when determining brand loyalty. If you want your business to run smoothly and generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses, gaining customer trust is the first step in this process.
Image courtesy of Marketing Charts
If you want to achieve longevity in business and you want to be seen as a serious contender in your industry, then you must garner the trust of customers, who use trust to inform decisions, as well as suppliers, who invest in your business by extending credit, as well as society at large. Thus, trust is a large factor in sustainable competitive advantage.
Building customer trust
Building trust and helping prospective customers understand that they can rely on you is only difficult if you allow it to be. It’s like building trust with friends as an individual. Building consumer trust relies on acting responsibly, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction, being transparent in all of your business operations, and providing security for your business and customers.
Image courtesy of Edelman
1. Look professional
Not all scammy businesses look unprofessional, but certainly looking unprofessional makes you look scammy. If you want to build consumer trust, focus on providing the most professional look possible.
Ensure you have a good-looking website
Today’s consumers expect to see a business has an online presence. So if you aren’t online currently, consumers likely think that you’re some fly-by-night, untrustworthy business operating out of some decrepit website on the fringes of society.
Once you get yourself online, you need to ensure your website is attractive, professional, and user-friendly this is your first chance to meet customers in many cases and, it’s like your mother always told you, people judge you by the way you look.
Make sure everything on your website is organized intuitively and that your layout and images position your company as a leader in your industry. A professional-looking website contains white space to ensure visitors can skim through the page to find exactly what they’re looking for and an image is that accurately portray the organization while looking good.
Just as your website represents your company and must look professional, so should your people. If your appearance is sloppy, with wrinkled clothing and unshaven employees, you come across as a company that is professional and doesn’t care about looking professional. Half-heartedly dressing for meetings, presentations, etc. may convince people that you’re not as experienced as others.
The same is true for your offices and other facilities. A clean attractive office shows you care about your appearance and engenders customer trust. In professional service businesses, like lawyers and doctors, showing an attractive, well-appointed office suggests you’re successful, which engenders trust.
2. Be transparent
If you hold back any information or you feel as though you can avoid direct answers with redirection, customers and other stakeholders won’t trust you. People aren’t stupid and quickly discover when you’re trying to pull a fast one on them.
Be transparent and all of your interactions with consumers, suppliers, and the media. That means being honest with your advertising, as overpromising commonly results in dissatisfaction and distrust. Customers should know exactly what they are getting before making a purchase and the purchase must meet the promises you made. If something goes wrong, own the mistake and offer solutions to any problems you created. By being open and honest, you generate trust among your stakeholders.
Part of being transparent is asking for and posting unbiased customer reviews and feedback. These reviews act to help consumers make decisions about the products they purchase. Ensuring your feedback is unbiased is a critical aspect of building customer trust in your business. This is so important that brands like Amazon go to great lengths to weed out reviews from people who did not make the purchase, individuals with an existing relationship to the brand, and others who have a history of being biased in their reviews.
3.Provide excellent customer service
People, in this day and age, want immediate answers and solutions, so the faster they get a response, the less dissatisfaction you create. By completely addressing customer complaints and questions, you can even turn dissatisfaction into satisfaction and build customer trust. Waiting a few days or weeks to provide a response produces negative attitudes that can quickly go viral. Things like an after-hours call answering service, offering social media customer service, using chatbots that never take a day off, and building contingency plans so everyone knows the correct procedures and contact chain helps a brand provide fast, efficient customer service. If your stakeholders ask a question and receive a quick answer, they’ll be mightily impressed.
4. Build a solid social media presence
We talked about possessing a website and using it as a hub for people to gather information. Social media similarly offers a means of contact, a tool for providing customer service (as mentioned above), a listening platform to understand customer needs better, and a way to engage your audience to increase the reach of your messages. Use social media as a means to build a relationship with customers, suppliers, prospective buyers, and the public in general. Social media platforms are free to use and can impact your business in a positive way.
The key to using social media effectively is to share valuable content on a consistent basis across whatever social media platforms you choose. Using social media as simply another channel for spreading advertising messages and talking about yourself exclusively is a surefire way to damage your reputation and you won’t get any positive results from your social media campaigns.
Instead of the stilted dialogue you share in public relations or the overly slick appearance of your advertising, use social media as an informal conversation between you and your audience. Feel free to be yourself and share aspects of the business that provide your network a backstage view of what goes on. Celebrate employees and your customers by mentioning them favorably in your posts, as well.
5. Build secure relationships with your stakeholders
Actively work to build good customer relationships with customers and other stakeholders as a way to generate customer trust. Don’t just see people related to your business as people to profit from. If you build a genuine and passionate relationship with good meaning, then you will impress those around you.
Part of being a good relationship partner involves protecting the security and privacy of your customers and other stakeholders. That means ensuring you have proper security installed on your site and your cloud computing operations to protect sensitive information from cybercriminals. Protecting the security of your stakeholders also means training employees in the effective handling of consumer data and the proper procedures to protect that data. Phishing is still the most effective tool used by cybercriminals to access inappropriate data. So, pay attention to training employees to avoid this type of security breach.
I trust this post provided the value you sought based on the title. You see how I did that — used trust-building as part of my conclusion. Seriously, I hope you gained an appreciation of why it’s important to ensure customer trust and discovered some methods to build customer trust among your market. If you have questions or comments on this post, I welcome you to post them below.