Perhaps more than ever, customer trust is critical to running a successful business. One Salsify study surveyed more than 1,800 consumers. Of them, nearly 90 percent were “willing to pay more for something when it comes from a brand they trust.”
Loyal customers form the bedrock of a stable company. When customers believe that you have their best interests in mind, they’ll trust you to do right by them. Maintain this good relationship long enough, and they’re sure to spread the news about your excellent service via word of mouth.
Consumer trust affects your bottom line and your business longevity. But, more importantly, it assures customers that you can deliver the level of service they expect and address issues head-on. In this article, we’ll talk about why that is, how trust works, and what you can do to make sure you’re heading in the right direction with building and maintaining the loyalty of your customers.
Modern customer expectations have shifted. Customer reviews are available with just a click, and customers feel empowered to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Brand reputation and positive reviews have also never been more critical. In fact, 94% of consumers say negative feedback has convinced them to avoid a business, according to ReviewTrackers data.
New customers look for a loyal customer base before committing their dollars to a business. To gain customer trust, companies must not only provide a quality product or service that addresses pain points but also build trust through genuine interactions and mission-based decision-making.
Get it right, and customer retention can help power a company into solid growth. Get it wrong, and failure to gain customer trust can leave a business scrambling to acquire enough customers to get by.
Before your customers are onboarded to your product or service, their prior experience determines how much they will trust your company.
From past clients who leave reviews on popular review sites to whether your sales team genuinely has customers’ best interest in mind, a commitment to establish trust from the beginning of their journey sets a strong foundation for loyalty down the line.
For this reason, a successful business starts thinking about how to establish trust with customers before they even begin their marketing efforts.
Building trust takes foresight. For that to work, businesses must funnel their efforts to the right prospects. Make sure your company targets good-fit customers before connecting them with sales reps. A receptive audience is less likely to feel defensive in the face of sales tactics. This enables your team to build trust.
From there, help customers embark on their journey.
You know who your company is targeting. Now you want to let that audience know who you are. Consumers today appreciate seeing the human side of a company.
“Stories are the ideal way to build a brand because they are memorable and provide an easy way to understand what a company is all about and why someone would want to be a part of it (buy their products or services). An effective brand invites people into the brand story so that they feel like they are part of it.”
-Shannon Kegerries, Viral Solutions
Telling your company story not only establishes a relatable picture of your brand. It invites your prospects to connect with you in a way that lays the foundation for customer loyalty.
Once customers are onboarded, customer service needs to be excellent.
Customer service is where your team and customers have direct interaction. This often happens when something isn’t going quite right. Your team’s ability to quickly solve problems in a friendly manner will help trust grow by leaps and bounds.
Customers who experience friction can actually become some of your most loyal customers and biggest advocates, thanks to stellar customer service. Dedicated support staff ensures that every issue gets addressed and ideally resolved to secure repeat business.
In addition to providing great customer service, make it easy for customers to reach your support team. Communication is as much a part of the customer experience as their interactions with your product.
Have dedicated personnel who respond quickly to communications via phone, email, and even social media channels. For example, large brands are increasingly leveraging social customer care. Dedicated social support teams respond to complaint posts made on these platforms.
When customers reach out, they should get a quick, friendly response. Set up systems so no one is left hanging for days wondering if their problem will be resolved.
Hopefully, your excellent product and customer service will lead to great customer reviews and testimonials. This includes organic reputation-building content like online posts. This social proof of your company’s excellence from satisfied customers helps potential customers see your trustworthiness.
Customers tend to trust other consumers more than the businesses trying to sell to them. In fact, 89% of global consumers check online reviews as part of their online buying journey.
For this same reason, it’s important to be aware if your reputation takes a hit. Bad reviews and testimonials can undermine your prospective customers' trust.
To counterbalance the effects of any negative feedback from a vocal few, be sure to promote positive experiences by sharing and highlighting the good reviews over the negative ones. Put them front and center on your websites and other places to demonstrate trustworthiness to your customer base.
Use reviews as feedback, but also conduct surveys for both existing customers and customers that stop doing business with you, if possible. For example, if someone unsubscribes from your subscription service, a quick automated exit survey can help you find any patterns causing people to leave.
Asking for feedback demonstrates that you care what customers or clients think. In order to truly secure customers’ trust, however, you also need to act on that feedback. Be sure to develop a plan of action based on feedback so you don’t drop the ball.
This should be obvious, but no one wants to be deceived. If you dabble in exaggerated claims or your sales team misrepresents your offerings, trust in your brand is going to take a nosedive. Building trust requires delivering on what you promise, so don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
No one, and no company, is perfect. Being transparent about pricing and what your products can and cannot do not only helps ensure you’re attracting good-fit customers. It also keeps existing customers’ expectations realistic.
Additionally, avoid covering up missteps. Own mistakes and explain to customers how you plan to avoid making the same ones in the future. This will go far in building trust.
Customer and payment information is increasingly digitized, forcing companies and consumers alike to rethink privacy. One important component of building customer trust is using the best practices when it comes to security. Ensure your payment gateways, website, and customer data storage are protected and let customers know.
Too often, companies create websites, social media accounts, and other audience-facing assets and then walk away. Unfortunately, these things digitally age. You won’t show up in your audience’s timelines and web searches simply for existing.
Continue to engage. Create a digital history of activity, presence, and helpfulness. This keeps existing customers in the loop on your business activities and helps build customer trust in prospects.
Finally, personal touches and going the extra mile make a difference. As one example, look to JetBlue customer Paul Brown. Brown Tweeted his disappointment that there was no Starbucks in the small terminal he flew out of in 2013.
Once he boarded the plane, the flight crew brought him a Starbucks venti mocha, much to his and his followers’ enjoyment.
Of course, this was only possible through open communication lines between JetBlue’s Twitter-monitoring team and the crew members working the flight. Enable your teams to communicate seamlessly and empower them to make moments like this happen for customers, and watch your wow factor rise.
Believe it or not, the way you schedule, prepare for, and conduct meetings has an impact on customer loyalty and trust.
Meetings are one of the heaviest touch points with customers—even more so than customer service calls. Scheduled meetings are dedicated time to make long-term strategies, check in on progress towards goals, and share important information about what lies ahead.
If your customer feels that meetings aren’t being leveraged well, they may conclude that you’re wasting their time. To avoid this, be sure to:
Meetings are an excellent place to get detailed customer feedback on whether your business is meeting their expectations and where it could be doing better. Don’t overlook this important opportunity to build and strengthen trust.
Not long ago, trust was built in-person through firm handshakes, friendly banter, and making good on deliverables. While some of that has changed, the core of trust-building remains mostly the same.
Use digital tools like online surveys and meeting notes apps to help keep your company consistent and trustworthy in your customers’ eyes. The way we do business has evolved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do the same.
The right rapport-building questions give others permission to take the emotional space needed for trust to deepen.
By focusing on psychological safety, you build the foundation for a positive work culture.