How to Build and Maintain Customer Trust
Trust is hard to earn, hard to measure, and probably even harder to maintain both in personal and business relationships. But, unlike in personal relationships where communication is often straightforward and you have a lot of room to explain yourself, as a brand you can’t afford to risk losing your consumer’s trust. Brands might not get the chance to justify or explain a mistake as a person would do in a friendly or romantic relationship.
Many brands tend to oversee the importance of trust and focus on other aspects of their online presence that seem to be more profitable. The irony is that trust is the engine that drives profitability – studies say that 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, not from new ones.
Customer trust is the pillar of brand value and it is the key to building your base of loyal consumers. And, what you should always bear in mind – your loyal customers are the ones who attract new customers to your brand. No marketing tool can be as effective as the testimonial or personal recommendation of a satisfied, loyal consumer whose trust you have earned.
In this article, we’re going to tackle this interesting topic and hopefully help you build and maintain customer trust effectively. Stay tuned to read more about:
Although it is not possible to build customer trust instantly, especially if you are just starting a new brand from scratch, there are things you can do to establish a good basis for a trustful relationship in the future. Respect, high appreciation, and a strong emotional bond all go hand in hand with customer trust.
Although it may not seem so obvious, consistency and authenticity are tightly linked. Only if you are authentic will you be able to stay consistent effortlessly. In any other case, it will take enormous amounts of energy and effort to keep an image that is not in line with your authentic values. In other words, it is way easier to produce a quality product than to advertise a product of a not-so-good quality.
Staying consistent means always staying true to your core values in all aspects – from advertising and communication to your content strategy and visual identity, and everything in between. Your communication strategy on social media should be in line with the communication on your website, you have to ensure you give off the same image on all communication channels. That way you are also building your reputation.
The fastest and easiest way to earn your customers’ trust is the simplest one – don’t ever make false claims about your products and/or services, or promise benefits that are not realistic. A few bad recommendations can be huge red flags for your target group. Share all the information your consumers need transparently.
If the consumers get plenty of data about the product in one place, and you honestly point out even its specific limitations or possible downsides – it is less likely they’ll go to other sites to compare it to other offers. Make sure you have all the pages every website needs, including the legal pages too.
The way consumers will perceive your brand depends a lot on the story you tell them about it. If you want to earn their trust, you will have to understand and own your story first. Why and how your business started, what are your aspirations and inspirations, who is the brand made for – all these messages can be irresistibly packed into an interesting story.
Visual storytelling will be particularly impactful to highlight your core brand values and spark emotions in your consumers. You need to give people something they can identify with. We are all naturally attracted to kindred spirits, and we are also inclined to trust those who we perceive alike to us.
Covering the technical aspects of excellent customer service is number one on the list of every website owner who deals with customers on a daily basis. Great customer service starts with a great user experience on your website, competent customer support service and includes all that happens from the moment a customer lands on your site to the moment they get your product in their hands. A slowly loading page, bad link, unresponsive customer support staff, and similar issues are not only a huge turn-off for the vast majority of consumers, but they are also a major obstacle to earning your consumers’ trust.
Apart from making sure of your customer service excellence, putting a face to the name makes the whole experience a lot more personalized. Sharing your employees’ images, as well as their experiences about working in your company, can be a great way to inspire trust. Keeping your employees satisfied and appreciated is actually one of the best and most natural ways to inspire trust in your consumers.
The times when consumers trusted ads are long gone. Now, they only trust each other’s opinions and reviews. That is also exactly the reason behind the nowadays already widely-spread business practice of sharing customer reviews. The customer-centered approach is indeed the most effective one when it comes to marketing in every sense.
But, apart from sharing great testimonials, top ratings, and feedback, a bad review from time to time followed with a sincere explanation and effort to compensate for the shortcoming from your side can be incredibly effective for building a trustful relationship. Being honest about your mistakes but also about how you managed to overcome them is a huge trust booster.
Your business blog can be an incredibly powerful tool and amazing marketing channel if you staff it with adequate, quality content. A smart content strategy may not bring instant results, but trust, unlike love, rarely happens at first sight. By consistently offering quality, relevant, and above all useful content to your consumers you’re offering them added value.
If, for example, you are selling sports equipment, your blog should offer sports tips, in-depth analysis of sports benefits, and similar content so that each time a consumer has a sports-related question you’re at the top of their mind. The competence and authority of your brand depend on your expertise, so be generous when it comes to sharing your knowledge about the products, their benefits, usage as well as the broader industry or field where those products are used, and other things related to them.
Trust must never be taken for granted. Design loyalty and referral programs that provide real value to your consumers, offer exclusive content for the selected ones. But also, keep communicating – send customer satisfaction surveys, ask them for their opinion, show that you care. Never let them just collect coupons and stamps to earn discounts – trust is not to be traded for cheap rewards. Make your consumers feel like they participate in shaping your brand to promote the feeling of belonging.
If as a brand you show that you believe in something that is larger than you, your consumers will also feel that by trusting you they do more than just support your business. Choose the initiatives that are in line with your core brand values and support them the way that you can. This will also give you more visibility and may serve as great inspiration for quality content for your blog.
Conflicts are inevitable in any business. What is not inevitable, however, is the damage they may cause to your brand image. That’s why you need to have a conflict resolution strategy in place, as well as well-trained staff so that each time an issue emerges you can react promptly and efficiently. Transparent communication and clear policies usually make conflicts a lot easier to solve. However annoying the consumers may be, never lose your cool – act with grace, respect and understanding.
There is no area of your business that is not affected by how your customers perceive your brand. Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship including a business one. Treat your customers just as you treat your brand – seriously and with a lot of care and respect.
Once a brand loses the trust of consumers, it often resorts to tactics that look like rebranding rather than crisis management. As risky as it may seem to you to admit a mistake, honesty is by far the simplest and most affordable tool for building trust. Take responsibility for your brand, own your mistakes, show that you can handle it – there’s no better trust booster than that. If you’ve managed to set a strong foundation for trust between you and your consumers, there will hardly ever be an obstacle you can’t overcome. And always remember – those 20% of your customers, the most loyal ones, are the ones you should aim at when crafting marketing and content strategy.