Customer Trust – 14 Ways To Get It

Who Would You Buy From?
Would you rather buy property from:

how to build customer trust

© sumnersgraphicsinc - Fotolia.com

  • Realtor #1 who’s disorganized, rude, pushy, has a shady past and contact information scribbled on a napkin?
  • or Realtor #2, a clean-cut, personable, accommodating realtor with good references, all the correct paperwork, business cards, and answers?

No brainer, I know. Trustworthy realtor #2 wins, hands down. Yet, many including myself have chosen at least once to buy from or opt-in with the pushy realtor number one’s online twin. I’m talking about those websites that push products or services that don’t deliver and stuff your inbox with email after email, each urging you to buy yet another dime-a-dozen must-have-now product. You get to feeling that you’re just another wallet on their list.  Annoyed and finding no value with their services, you finally unsubscribe and move on.

Of course, that’s just one scenario. Many other online experiences exist that also test your customer loyalty.

Plan For Customer Trust

As an online entrepreneur, there is a lesson to glean from these bad customer experiences: Build your customer’s trust and you will gain customer loyalty; abuse their friendship and watch your list, sales, and business reputation suffer.

In a vast sea of mediocre products, services, and information on the web, online credibility gives you the upper hand. It helps you stand out and get noticed by shoppers looking for value and someone to fulfill their wants.

If your business is customer focused, then earning trust will be an integral part of your business planning. Customers will perceive you as credible and will trust you enough to keep the communication lines, such as your email newsletter, open.

Retaining Customers By Earning Trust

Below are 14 ways to earn customer trust and build loyalty that you can integrate into your business plans:

1.    Clearly show that you are a business
As an online business, you have minimal face time with your clients and website visitors. It’s somewhat impersonal. Therefore, you should show that your business is a real entity.  On your website, list your address and include pictures of your office and any other proof that your business exists. You’ll stand apart from those many sites that hide their identity and contact information because their sole purpose is to get you to buy the product offered or advertised on their site. Unlike them, you’re looking for a relationship, not just a sale.

2.    Add an About Page
Like realtor #2 above, be personable. Adding an About page to your website with some description of your business helps to create trust. Also adding some description of yourself and others involved gives your site and business more depth: there are real people with real names and real responsibilities working behind the scenes.

3.    Date Your Information
Without a timestamp, information on the net can be taken out of context. Also, dated articles just appear more trustworthy. Despite this, many websites neglect to date their content.  They do this for many reasons: to make more room on their site, especially above the fold; to keep the readers focused on the content; and often, unfortunately, to make the content look timely, even when it’s not. Dating each post puts it in the proper context. And don’t worry.  Dating your work doesn’t mean your older content lacks value.  In fact, having content dating back in years will help give you added credibility by indicating how long you’ve been in the field.

4.    Be Approachable
Having clear viable contact information puts your visitors at ease.  Like the business information and About page on your site, your contact information makes you approachable, accessible and therefore real.  But that’s just the first step. Also make sure you always respond to inquiries or comments quickly, consistently and effectively. This is an opportunity, a point of contact with your visitors and potential clients. Don’t blow it.

5.    Reveal Your Content Sources
Anyone can publish information on the internet. For that reason, indicating your content sources such as news articles, credible sites, interviews or research studies not only makes you look professional and confident, but helps your readers trust the information you are providing.

6.    Lookout For Errors
Fixing any broken links or correcting any typographical errors makes you look professional as opposed to some Mickey Mouse set-up. Visitors could easily confuse your site’s messiness with your level of service. So clean house regularly.

7.    Show Your Expertise
If you or those on your team have related skills, education, experience or a title include them on your About page. This level of expertise will help put visitors at ease with your products and services. Also include any well-known reputable partners or affiliations. Their perceived value will spill over onto your business.

8.    Quality Content
Provide original quality content on your site. This shows customers that not only do you know your stuff, but also that you care about them. You are providing them with content that helps them. Quality is the keyword here. Quality is not limited to great writing with no typographical errors but also includes information that’s helpful and relevant to your visitors. Remember quality is based on their perception, not yours.

9.    Great Website Design
In this case, there are two main focuses to great web design:

The first relates to its visual appeal. Does it look professional? Will it appeal to your market? What does it say about you? Remember the two realtors above. With buying property, being clean-cut helped the second realtor gain our trust. On the other hand, if you own a rock music or tattoo website, the clean-cut corporate look may not be as suitable.  It’s the same for your site. Its design should match your niche and purpose.

The second focus of your design relates to customer experience.  Can visitors easily navigate your site and get to the information they want? Nowadays, online customer-friendliness is expected and includes easy navigation, usefulness, quick loading of pages, links that work, etc.

10.    Customer Service
We’ve all been burnt by bad customer service.  Remember how infuriating that felt? Then make sure you don’t create that same experience with your customers or site visitors. The tables are now turned and you should do everything in your power to provide your customers and visitors with a great experience. You want them to turn around and tell others how great you are.

Excellent customer service is based on listening to your customers and giving them what they want. There may be times within or outside of your control when you’ll disappoint a customer. That’s the most important time to listen and to provide them with value. Don’t ignore them. Make it right and you can actually regain their trust and create a stronger relationship.

11.    Keep it Fresh
Update your content frequently. This tells visitors that you are active and in-the-know. The Stanford Web Credibility Research discovered that people find sites that frequently freshen-up their content more credible.

12.    Go Easy on The Ads and Emails
A site with too many ads looks desperate and pushy.  It can also give your potential clients the impression you care more about your bank account than them.  Avoid ads as much as possible and clearly state which are sponsored. Pop-up ads in particular annoy your visitors and make you lose credibility.

The same goes for emailing your subscription list with too many product offers. Those frequent email offers are just as irritating as marketing calls, even if visitors opted-in to your list. Most likely when they did, they didn’t anticipate receiving advertisements every day or even three times per week.  If you do this, you run the risk of annoying your subscribers and will likely get rerouted directly to their spam folder or get many unsubscribed notices. Neither is good for business.

13.    Watch-Out For Bloopers
Nowadays, many sites include different media such as video, audio and personal images. Make sure these don’t hurt your credibility. For instance, check the sound quality of any audio media. Are there dogs barking or kids yelling in the background? In videos and images, make sure what’s behind you matches the image you are projecting. For instance, mess and clutter or a bystander holding a beer might not project the right message.

14.    What’s Everybody Else Saying?
Including praise for your product, service, or you on your website will help put visitors at ease. You can use unsolicited testimonials from comments left on your website or from emails (make sure you ask permission).  Don’t forget to add any reviews and mentions in the press.

 

Like the realtor example above, you’re probably thinking this is all common sense, a no brainer.  And I agree, it is. But how many businesses online actually practice all or most of these steps? Not a whole lot. So, integrate as much of these 14 customer trust building guidelines as possible into your planning and you will  stand out as a credible and valuable online business and in the process gain more visitors and happy customers.

How about you? Which steps have you applied to your business? Are there more not mentioned here that you find crucial to building trust with your clients? Do you even agree that these steps are necessary? Leave a comment below.

If you are still in the early planning phase, you may also want to read this piece on the bare basics to starting an online business.

5 Responses to Customer Trust – 14 Ways To Get It

  1. Hi Louise

    Those are 14 very worthwhile suggestions. Each is worth a day’s reflection, and I’m sure I can do all of them better.

    I have had periods when I used ads on my site. Then I’ve had months when I displayed very little. First I tried banners; then no banners; adsense… no adsense…

    I decided that getting my ‘message’ worthy of reading was more important than worrying about revenue – which would come anyway if the message was relevant.

    Now I have to make sure I stay relevant.

    Are you sure he’s a realtor? He looks like a used car salesman. One who sells VERY used cars.

    Anthony

  2. Hi Anthony!

    Thank you for reading my post and commenting. Glad you enjoyed it.

    I guess finding just the right amount of ads on your site while creating a trusting environment can be a juggling act. And just as you’ve done, you have to try different scenarios to find the right mix.

    It’s great that you are putting your customer first. And I certainly believe that if you do that, the money follows.

    As for the picture…yes he does carry the used car salesman look. Maybe he’s trying his luck at realty!

    cheers,
    Louise

  3. […] More on building customer trust… Tags: build trust, get more customers, how to get new customers, how to keep customers, increase online sales […]

  4. According to me that fresh and related content is a top factor in receiving more organic traffic, and it also adds the benefit of a more engaged audience. You can also gain their trust through a buying guide, for them to easily understand product description.

  5. Thank you Hanna for those extra tips!