Everything is more complicated these days. Even being a customer.
Sure, technological advancements have made it faster and easier than ever to complete a transaction, but this simplicity is confounded by the constantly increasing complexity of choosing what to buy. After all, there is so much stuff to choose from. And everything your heart desires is available from different brands in slight variations.
Further complicating matters are security concerns, as all of that modern technology isn’t quite foolproof – nor crime proof. To capture customer’s attention (and purchases) it is more important than ever to build a trusted brand.
Building a trusted brand is a tricky business. It requires a deep investment of time, capital, and man-hours spent going the extra mile to ensure your customers are satisfied with your business and have faith that you can provide consistent results.
Let’s take a more detailed look into customer trust – the cornerstone of any successful brand.
What is customer trust?
When a customer makes a purchase, they are implicitly deciding to put their trust in the person on the other end of the transaction.
According to numbers published in Forbes, trust issues cost brands in the United States upwards of $750 billion every year. If the customer has any doubt that the content, service, or product they are purchasing will fail to meet their expectations, that the business is questionable, or that the transaction (and ergo their personal data) is insecure, they are unlikely to invest their hard-earned money.
However, if a customer finds a brand they like which provides consistent quality results, they will begin to build trust in the product, the service, and the brand behind it. You can see these effects when your customers return to your business, refer you to others, and leave positive reviews.
Despite all of our modern marketing techniques, there are few tactics more effective than word of mouth.
Building a trusting relationship with your customers will not only have them returning to you but will also have them working in your favor to establish a lasting reputation of quality.
How to build trust?
The simple truth is that if you want people to trust your business, you need to run a quality business. This means saying what you’ll do and doing what you say. As an overall philosophy, this is the only strategy that will establish a truly trustworthy brand.
While there are few shortcuts, there are some steps that honest and trustworthy business people can take to signal to their customers that they have a reliable and consistent brand worthy of a customer’s loyalty.
Activity and presence
Establishing a respectable reputation requires you to first have a presence in spaces where your customers are paying attention. In the internet age, this means social media.
Social media is an amazing outlet for building your brand’s image and reputation. It allows you to offer a more personal insight into your brand, giving your customers material that can help them create a real connection with your brand.
Not only does it provide customers with a window into your business, but it also lets businesses connect directly with their customer base through posts, comments, contests, and other techniques.
Profiles on social networks also offer a lot of flexibility. They allow you to engage both current and new audiences, post images and behind-the-scenes videos, and update them on the status of your latest product.
Security is a cornerstone of any businesses’ relationship with its customers. Without security, your customers won’t feel safe making a purchase, and there won’t be any purchase at all.
In this regard, your website matters, even if you don’t use it for selling e-commerce. The design and the sense of security it represents can have a powerful influence on the perception of your brand.
Modern web designs are sleek, responsive, and direct attention right where it needs to be. Create a properly secured and easy to navigate website to help reassure your customers that you are keeping their security in mind.
You should assume that the modern customer is a skeptic. Gone are the days of a customer blindly trusting the claims in a brand’s brochure copy.
Now they have access to thousands of reviews, comparisons, break downs, and review videos right from their phone.
Subpar brands making low-quality products have forced customers to tread cautiously in making new purchases. Unfortunately, the actions of a few bad apples have spoiled the goodwill of the entire customer base.
Any time a person is left feeling as if they have been deceived or manipulated after making a purchase will surely stop buying from the brand that caused those feelings. For that reason, you never promise anything that your business isn’t ready to deliver.
In fact, the most cautious way to do business is to underpromise and overdeliver. If it normally takes a week to get a product to a customer, advertise that it takes two weeks on your website. Now you have a buffer against most unforeseen circumstances. When the package arrives in a week as it normally does, your customer will be excited it came early.
But if something goes awry on your end, you have a whole week to get things in order before disappointing a customer.
The biggest fear of any new manufacturer is that the customers will experience an issue with their product. The truth is that things will, sooner or later, go awry. But rather than a catastrophe, this can be a chance to shine.
When they reach out to you after that problem, respond with attentive, helpful, and pleasant customer support service. The right customer service can turn even the most negative experience into a positive one.
If you made a mistake, you should live up to it. Devote yourself to customer support and you can even make a failed product helpful to your image.
After all, nobody expects perfection. For most people, recognizing a real desire for improvement is enough to earn their respect.
Make it personal
The truth is that most brands are anything but unique. If something is worth making, there will be multiple brands churning them out.
To stand out, you need to make a brand personal. You need to make something that customers can connect with on a personal and emotional level. Data from Adweek suggested that as much as 44% of global customers are more likely to make purchases from businesses that personalize the experience.
Businesses employ many different strategies in their efforts to create a personal connection to their customers. Some do it through storytelling in advertising. Others rely on their attentive customer support and sales staff to build human relationships.
What is most important is understanding your customer’s desires. If you can put yourself in their shoes, you’ll quickly see the direction in which to walk that extra mile.
Be honest and available
Communication is everything. You should be as available to your customers as possible. You should be completely upfront with them and honest about every detail, challenge, risk, and expectation.
To make the most of your business, you should be open and upfront with everyone you work with about what you want to achieve and how you plan on doing that. Whenever you make a mistake, own it. This is your business.
Make it as simple as possible for your customers to get in contact with you. Have your contact details readily available on your website, advertising materials, packaging, and anywhere else a customer might look to contact you.
How to seem trustworthy?
The first contact most people will have with your brand is through your marketing materials. This could be your website, your social media, a physical advertisement, product packaging, or even some form of digital content like reviews.
The way you present yourself speaks volumes and your customers will read into every detail. You want to create a stable, respectable, and attractive brand that carries consistently throughout every facet of the business which a customer might interact with.
Finding the right blend of professionalism and pizazz can be difficult for some brands, but for most, it is better to err on the side of professionalism. Here are some basic guidelines for any marketing material which can create a trustworthy image:
- Make your contact information clear and easy to find.
- Choose a professional and recognizable design that directs the customer’s attention where you want it.
- Advertise your social media platforms, testimonials and customer reviews to build social proof.
- Be careful of spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Always write professionally and edit twice.
- Avoid obnoxious advertisements such as auto-playing videos, spam email or physical mail or gaudy advertisements.
- Make sure your terms and conditions and any other relevant documents are easily accessible and up to date.
What do these tips have in mind? They are all based on creating a transparent and simple brand image. Something your customers won’t see as suspicious at first glance and can come to recognize and rely on as they build an ongoing relationship with your brand.
Building customer trust isn’t quick. And it’s anything but easy. There will always be some that have a problem with the way your business operates, no matter how hard you try. However, by following the tips from above, you will set yourself up for success, at least in 99% of cases.
Consistency is your best friend as you build a brand. The longer you can keep up with these best practices, the more trustworthy your brand’s reputation will become.