Trust matters. It’s the foundation of every relationship between customer and business. In a world where almost all online interactions are done without genuine human interaction, trust is ever more important. Can your business be trusted to deliver the goods? Can you be relied on to support a customer in need? Is your reputation worthy of customer interaction? Trust is everywhere in a business, no matter the size, no matter the industry. Without trust, there are no relationships. Without relationships, there is no business.
When you work with a customer, you have to understand that behind every order there is a genuine human being. A human being that has placed their trust in you. Even if you haven’t actually spent time talking with them, they have (potentially over a very long time) been building a relationship with you. This happens naturally through a series of touchpoints that they have with your business. From the first impression when they first hear your name, to the first time on your socials and your website, and beyond to your customer care and service.
Trust is a huge part of running a business online. With the growth of the internet, competition has grown rapidly and the choice for customers has exploded. In order to genuinely grow a business, by attracting new customers but also holding and retaining existing customers, there has to be a trusting relationship.
Building trust with customers takes a whole lot of effort, time, and hard work, but it certainly pays dividends in the end.
This subheading could be changed to say “Any Sales” instead of increased sales. Without trust, you have no customers and without customers, you have no sales. So it stands to reason that if you build trust, and that trust expands to new customers, you’ll make more sales.
The trust has to be there because even if you have a genuinely excellent product or service, if the customer base or audience that you’re attempting to sell to doesn’t trust you to deliver it then the product or service is irrelevant. People simply won’t purchase from companies that they don’t trust.
Creating relationships with customers gets them over the initial hurdle of purchasing from you but also fosters a loyal relationship where customers keep coming back to you over time. Your most trusting customers could become brand advocates and help build that trust for you with their own network, increasing sales over time.
A customer who trusts you is, generally speaking, a happy customer. These customers are your best friends when it comes to marketing. They spend time talking about you with their friends, family, and online network. They recommend your services and products. They talk about you on social media. They leave you reviews. They are when all is said and done, doing a great deal of your marketing for you.
It all starts with trust and once that trust has been proven (through ongoing relationship building, product satisfaction, and customer service) they’ll feel comfortable enough to vouch for you. At that stage, the customer trusts you so much that they’re willing to bet their own reputation on it.
It’s a competitive world out there. In 2020 there were 50 million new businesses launched. That means that there are 137,000 startups opening their doors every single day. It’s agreed that these won’t all be your competitors but a portion of them will be. You definitely will need a competitive edge over them in order to keep your customers.
Trust is a great way to keep customers loyal to you. Most people don’t want to have to go through the trust-building process with a new business all over again. It takes them a great deal of mental power, stress, and effort. It’s why when someone finds a mechanic they like, they’ll stick with them. They trust them.
If you’re able to get customers to trust you they are far less likely to look to your competitors, even if they (on the surface) might be offering a better deal. Lose that trust, or somehow break it, and they’ll begin to look elsewhere.
Having the reputation of a trustworthy business is worth its weight in gold. A bad reputation, of one which can’t be trusted, is hard to break and will take a great deal of time to overturn. Earning a good reputation takes time, trust isn’t earned overnight but can be broken quickly.
Nurturing your business’s outward reputation through testimonials, reviews, case studies, customer feedback, and more, goes a long way toward achieving new customers. These act as a window into your business where prospective customers can see what it might be like to work with you.
Customer service is the main way that customers will interact with your company. Be it through your website, through an online chat, via WhatsApp, on the phone, or by email, however you do it, do it exceptionally. That means putting the customer first, making sure that they feel genuinely heard, that their needs are met, and that their issues are resolved.
A great deal of customer service relies on your customer service representatives, so invest in them wisely. Alongside the people, consider investing in customer service software and tools that both make for a great customer experience and also save you valuable time.
What is a real relationship? By this, we mean a relationship that is genuine, that makes the customer feel that they’re genuinely cared for and appreciated as a person rather than a transaction. It’s completely possible to have a transactional relationship with a customer, they come to your store, they buy your products, and they leave. But that’s not much of a relationship.
To genuinely build trust, look to connect with the person at the other end of the transaction. This is achieved through honest connections, asking for customer feedback, and then actually acting on it. Involve customers in the business by asking their opinion, inviting them to events and getting to know them.
Letting your customers know that you appreciate them goes a long way to building trust and retaining their business. It could be as simple as sending a quick email after purchase to say thank you for their business. It could be getting in touch on the anniversary of their first purchase to share a discount code. There are myriad ways to show appreciation, the trick is to do so at scale without the task being so onerous that it gets sidelined and forgotten.
Reviews and testimonials are one of the first touchpoints that a customer can begin to build trust with you and your business. Even after a glowing recommendation from a friend or colleague, almost everyone will head over to their friend Google and see what your online reputation looks like. Case studies are also a great way to display social proof, especially for potential customers who want all their questions answered upfront.
They’ll study your website and read about customer experiences in your testimonials, the whole time considering what it’d be like if they worked with you.
They’ll consider your online reviews, not necessarily the ones on your website (they could just be made up!) but on third-party sites such as Google, Trustpilot, Facebook, etc. A star rating is one thing, but what is it that people are actually saying? Your prospective customers will look to see if there’s another customer that sounds similar to them, how was their experience?
It all builds trust, and sometimes before they’ve even gotten to know you at all.
The old adage goes that the customer is always right, and that the customer comes first. Focusing on delivering a quality product that genuinely delivers usefulness and value to the customer should be the priority. To somehow improve their lives through your services. That means putting profits and revenue to one side and focusing on the customer.
This makes for a constantly evolving company, one that isn’t afraid to adapt as its users require different approaches and needs. It’s no small feat and isn’t as simple as making customers happy. In order to be truly customer-focused, it’s necessary to get deep into the mindset of your customer and understand their frustrations, pain points, and desires. This is usually approached through the development of customer personas, think tanks, and surveys.
It should be obvious, but being honest and transparent with customers is a surefire way to build trust. That means marketing can only share legitimate details about products and services, sales can only promise what is genuinely possible, and customer service should be clear about issues and resolutions.
Being transparent allows customers to believe that you are working for and with them. There are various ways you can be transparent, such as being clear about how/where you source materials for your products, sharing company insights and the day-to-day activities that go on within, replying to customer concerns and reviews or simply having a detailed about us section or team member bios.
Sometimes things go wrong. It might not be the company's fault, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it your responsibility to make it right. When something does go wrong, be completely clear about what happened, how it can be resolved, and what the process is at this point. Customers will appreciate knowing what the plan is and that you care about the outcome.
If there’s an issue that is at the fault of your company then being honest is the best policy. Admit to the mistake, explain how you’ll work to rectify it, and go from there. There’s a chance that events like this can actually build trust.
When it comes to customer service, people will want to access you and your team across multiple different channels. That means having email support, web chat (either via an agent or a bot), self-service options (FAQs and knowledge bases), WhatsApp, phone, and more. Everyone likes to communicate in different ways, so having multiple options available is a great way to build trust with your users.
Offering an option is one thing, but you have to be genuinely available across all of the channels. A non-reply from a customer service channel is more frustrating than there not being one at all. Be clear about customer service working hours and aim to respond quickly when contacted.
Many businesses are somewhat scared of asking for feedback, out of fear that they’ll get negative results but asking for feedback has a huge impact on trust. When a customer is approached by a company for feedback, it shows that they genuinely want to hear from them. It looks even more trusting if this is on a public forum.
The very best feedback is feedback that is acted on. Request feedback from the customer, digest it, act on it, then (importantly) report back to the customer who left the feedback. This makes them feel heard and that their opinion mattered.
Loyalty programs have been used by supermarket chains for decades. They are now becoming more and more popular amongst retailers across multiple industries. Loyalty programs encourage customers to return time and time again in exchange for rewards. These could be as simple as getting your tenth coffee free when getting a card stamped, or collecting points to be transferred to cash vouchers. Whatever the program consists of, loyalty programs work fantastically at encouraging customers to keep returning to your business.
Building, nurturing, and maintaining customer trust at every touchpoint should be a priority for every business. Remember that without trust, there are no customers and with no customers, there are no sales, no business. Trust takes time and effort to earn but can help a business grow beyond its expectations.