Good relationships, including the ones between a business and its customers, are built on trust. Consumers need to feel confident that they are being told the truth and that a company’s products will match up to their claims. Furthermore, in today’s cyber society, many customers are highly concerned about the safety and security of their private data. After so many people’s financial and consumer behavioral data has been leaked or illegally collected, the security risks attached to online shopping are at the forefront of many customer’s minds.
Fostering this level of trust and confidence is by no means an easy feat, particularly for online businesses. Customers will judge a website in just a few seconds, and if anything makes them feel skeptical, they will leave without a conversion (or a thought of ever returning).
While there are obvious trust-killing mistakes to avoid, finding ways to set a foundation of trust is necessary. This can be done through many different tactics.
Let’s discuss some of the best approaches that online companies can use to create a trusting relationship with their customers.
Don’t Discourage Negative Feedback
Obviously, customer reviews play a huge role in the overall sentiment that consumers will have towards your brand. The vast majority of shoppers use customer reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, especially when they are checking out a new business.
Unfortunately, this focus on customer reviews has led to some shady business practices, such as paying for fake positive reviews or deleting negative feedback. Although it seems like having only positive reviews would build trust with customers, it can actually have the opposite effect.
According to G2 Crowd’s report, 67% of customers stated that they actually want to see a mix of positive and negative sentiment to help provide deeper insight into the experience they can expect. 40% even stated that negative reviews build credibility, and only 33% said they would be less likely to purchase after reading a few less-than-perfect reviews.
Remember, people, write bad reviews to let you know what their customer experience was and where there is room for improvement. Therefore, there is no need to shy away from negative feedback. In fact, you may want to encourage customers to share both what they enjoyed and what they disliked about your service or product.
For instance, on some of these reviews of Trustpilot, customers are asked to list out both the pros and cons of their software system. This creates a much more thorough and detailed review, which provides future customers with the information they are looking for to make an informed purchasing decision.
Be Accessible Everywhere
If customers have a hard time getting in contact with you, it could cause them to distrust your business. Customers want to know they can get instant assistance if there are any problems, and in most cases, they want to reach a “real human,” not just an FAQ page with generalized advice. In fact, one-third of frustrated customers blame their negative experience on the fact that they were not able to reach a customer service representative in a timely manner.
Be sure that your contact information is clearly displayed on every single channel, not just your website. List your customer support phone number or email address on social media platforms and email content so people can find it easily.
Live chat is quickly turning into the preferred contact method for customers because it can connect them to a representative instantly. This is an option that your online company should certainly consider, however, it is certainly not without complications. It will require round-the-clock customer service teams to be on alert and ready to answer inquiries in a short period of time.
AI-assisted chatbots can be an additional option here. Although they are not technically “human” support, they can certainly answer common customer questions or resolve frequent issues right away.
Build Your Social Proof
Social media is also becoming more influential over the way that customers shop, so be sure to focus on building social proof from customers and other brands. User-generated content (UGC) ranks highly in terms of trustworthiness with customers because it comes from people who are just like them.
If customers are already sharing content mentioning your brand or uploading visual content of your products, incorporate it into your website and social media strategy. This works well for tangible products that customers want to see “in real life”, such as clothing.
Showing visual content other than just your brand’s stylized photos can give customers a more realistic preview of the product.
The online clothing retailer Lulu’s does a great job of this by posting fan photos along-side each product. These come directly from hash-tagged Instagram posts as well as submitted review pictures.
Keep Your Blog Active and Relevant
Finally, be sure that your content marketing strategy is focused on establishing trust through quality writing and relevant topics. This shows customers that your brand is knowledgeable and informed.
You may even want to invest in some personal branding here with leaders in your business. Names like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Howard Shultz all immediately draw up brand associations. While the CEO of your business may not reach the level of notoriety as these leaders, it is still important that customers see why they are qualified and trustworthy.
In fact, according to one report, nearly 45% of your brand’s perception with the public is based on its leader’s reputation.
Thought leadership content shows your audience that the people in your company know what they are talking about. Make sure that the information is regularly updated and focused on current events, trends, and popular information within your industry.
Consumer trust takes time to build but it can be lost in an instant. Be sure that every aspect of your brand is designed to create an experience that is positive and beneficial to the customer. A commitment to transparency and honesty through content is a great way to show people that you care about them, and offering quick advice and assistance will also help to eliminate any worries they may have during the purchasing process.
customer loyalty concept