Before a customer makes 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 that 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 a handful of advertisements can’t undo the association 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, you can make your customers feel literally safer 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 if your checkout process is clunky and hard to follow, they may suspect that your platform is unsafe. Instead, 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’ll build visibility for your brand, you’ll attract more followers, and the followers you do have will get 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 this strategy is the amount of flexibility you have here; 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 part of the motivation behind this shift is that customers feel they’ve been lied to. Anytime a customer feels as though they’ve been deceived or manipulated, in any way, they’ll 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 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 8. That way, you’ll never run the risk of breaking your promises (at least, not with the majority of the population).
4. Go all-out for customer service.
Trust becomes fragile when a customer has 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 find 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, such as with a consulting business or as a marketer.
Be open and transparent about your goals and processes, and if something ever goes wrong, acknowledge it 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 is always 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 rates — why? Because people feel comforted knowing they could 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 their cell phone number in case of emergencies.
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 here, your most powerful strategy is 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 better your reputation will grow.
Unfortunately, even the best customer trust strategies require time and patience to cultivate.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!