Good relationships, including the ones between a business and its customers, are built on trust. Consumers need to feel confident that they’re being told the truth and that a company’s products will match up to its 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 on 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. Consumers will judge a website in just a few seconds, and if anything makes them feel skeptical, they’ll 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 trusting relationships with their customers.
Don’t Discourage Negative Feedback
Obviously, customer reviews play a huge factor 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 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 percent of consumers 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. Forty percent even stated that negative reviews build credibility, and only 33 percent said they would be less likely to purchase after reading a few less-than-perfect reviews.
Remember, people write negative reviews to let you know about their customer experience and where there’s room for improvement. Therefore, there’s 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 both the pros and cons of the company’s software system. This creates a much more thorough and detailed review, which provides future customers with the information they’re 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 weren’t able to reach a customer service representative in a timely manner.
Be sure that your contact information is clearly displayed in 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 your business should certainly consider, however, live chat is certainly not without its challenges. It requires round-the-clock customer service teams to be on alert and ready to answer inquiries in a short period of time. Artificial intelligence-assisted chatbots can be an additional option here. Although they’re not technically “human” support, chatbots can certainly answer common customer questions or resolve frequent issues right away.
Build Your Social Proof
Social media has become a preferred shopping channel for consumers, 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 consumers a more realistic preview of the product.
Online clothing retailer Lulus does a great job of this by posting fan photos alongside each product. These photos come directly from hashtagged 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. A blog page regularly updated with relevant and informative content shows consumers that your brand is knowledgeable and informed.
You may even want to invest in some personal branding here with leaders in your industry. Leaders such as 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’s still important that customers see why they’re qualified and trustworthy. In fact, according to one report, nearly 45 percent 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’re 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 about your brand is designed to create an experience that’s 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. Furthermore, offering quick advice and assistance will also help to eliminate any worries they may have during the purchasing process.
Manish Dudharejia is the president and co-founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a digital agency that specializes in website design and development as well as e-commerce SEO.