Before customers make a purchase from you, they need to be able to trust you. They need to trust that your messages are accurate, that what you’re selling matches up to what you say it is and that if anything goes wrong with the transaction, you’ll support them.
The problem is, trust can’t be established quickly or through gimmicks; companies that have lost consumer trust know this all too well. As they try to repair their image, they realize that a handful of advertisements can’t undo the negative associations in people’s minds. Trust can’t be forced down people’s throats, and it can’t be tricked out of people.
Instead, you have to earn consumer trust naturally. But how can you do this?
1. Improve your security.
First, make sure your customers feel safe when they shop with you. Even if you aren’t selling your products through an ecommerce platform, customers will still be visiting your website, and the amount of safety they feel while there can play a significant role in how much they trust your brand.
For example, if you spam them with advertising or maintain a checkout process that is clunky and hard to follow, customers may suspect that your platform is unsafe. So, beef up your security with basic SSL protection; use trusted payment options; and display your trust badges proudly — trust seals are the single greatest on-site factor that increases consumer trust.
2. Be socially active (and visible).
Being active on social media helps you in a number of ways: You build visibility for your brand, you attract more followers and you find that the followers you do attract have a better feel for “who” your brand is. The more frequently you expose this side of your brand, the faster you’ll be able to build that trust.
One of the strengths of building visibility via social media is the amount of flexibility you have there: You can spend your time syndicating onsite content, engaging with new and previous followers, posting images and video or updating customers with news and information. The key is to be active and present on a social platform.
3. Under-promise and over-deliver.
Consumers don’t trust brands nearly as much as they used to, and one reason for this shift is that customers feel they’ve been lied to. Any time a customer feels as though he or she has been deceived or manipulated, in any way,that customers will likely part ways with the brand responsible.
Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to all forms of customer expectations. If it takes you a week to ship a product, tell your customers it takes two weeks. If a product will last for 10 years, claim it will last for eight. That way, you’ll never run the risk of breaking your promises (at least, not with the majority of your customers).
4. Go all-out for customer service.
Trust becomes fragile when customers have an issue with something. If they experience a problem and receive prompt, helpful and memorable customer service, they’ll think of you forever as a reliable brand.
But if you drop the ball, you’ll lose a customer forever and likely experience a dip in your reputation. Whenever you can, go all-out in your customer service. Don’t just turn to the most cost-efficient way to resolve a problem; make sure your customers feel heard and appreciated, and go out of your way to make them happy.
5. Make your brand more personal.
It also helps to make your brand more personal, in your marketing and advertising, as well as in your regular interactions with customers and clients. Don’t use scripts and formulaic responses; instead, encourage your employees to speak from the heart, and engage customers like real people.
This small change makes your brand seem more human than corporate, and can drastically change customers’ impressions of you for the better.
6. Communicate more.
Don’t ever leave your customers in the dark. Though there is such a thing as over-communication, as a general rule, the more you talk to your customers, the better. This is especially true if you’re working with clients one-on-one, say, as a consultant or a marketer.
Be open and transparent about your goals and processes, and if something ever goes wrong, acknowledge the error proactively. If you’re caught withholding details or neglecting the communicative side of the relationship, any trust you may have built could fall apart.
7. Always be available.
Along those same lines, it’s vital that your brand always be available, in some way, for the people who need it. On landing pages, including a phone number or an instant chat box can instantly increase your conversion rate. Why? Because people feel comforted knowing they can talk with someone at any time they choose.
Make sure your customers have multiple lines of contact for you at all times — and if you have a dedicated account representative, give your clients that person’s cell phone number in case of an emergency.
Building trust won’t come quickly, and won’t always be straightforward, but these seven strategies can get you headed in the right direction. From there, your most powerful strategy will be consistency. The more consistent you are with your brand personality, your customer service and your basic products and services, the more loyal your existing customers will be and the stronger your reputation will grow.
Unfortunately, even the best customer trust strategies require time and patience to cultivate. So, start now.