As a business owner, one of your top priorities should be to build customer trust. As will be shown in this article, data from many studies have concluded that organizations that earn the trust of their customers enjoy customer retention rates that are six times higher than those of their competitors. But how do you go about building customer trust? This blog looks at six expectations customers require to develop long-term trust with businesses and retailers.
What is Customer Trust?
Customer trust is the confidence a consumer places in a company. This confidence is earned through consistently delivering on its promises and choosing to do the right thing. When customers trust your business, they find it credible, reliable, transparent, and ethical and for these reasons, they will continue to do business with you. Customer trust is critical because it means greater advocacy, loyalty, and engagement.
Key Takeaway: Customer trust leads to advocacy which means good online reviews, word-of-mouth promotion, and repeat business. Hence it is important to gain customer trust.
Expectation #1: Place an Emphasis on Customer service
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” –Jeff Bezos
Stellar Customer service is the support you provide your consumers before, during, and after they buy and use the products they purchase from your business. It is the service part of the customer experience that allows customers to retain favorable perceptions about your business. Offering amazing customer service is crucial if you want to retain customers and grow your business.
- 90% of customers report trusting a company whose service they rate as “very good.” (Qualtrics XM Institute)
- 86 % of consumers will leave a brand they were once loyal to after only two to three bad customer service experiences. (BusinessWire)
- 70% of the customer’s journey is based on how they feel they are being treated. (McKinsey)
- 83% of customers are loyal to businesses that resolve customer complaints (Khoros).
The above data from four different sources convey the same message; that customer trust is built on a foundation of exceptional customer service. When customers have problems with products purchased from your retail outlet, the business must take ownership of the issues.
Key Takeaway: Failure to offer excellent customer service leads to a loss of customer trust in your business. Consistent exceptional customer service is the key to maintaining customer trust over the long term.
Expectation #2: Prioritize Communication with customers
Communication with clients is essential as it establishes personal connections and strengthens customer relationships. There are several benefits to openly communicating with your customers; some examples include:
- limits misunderstandings,
- Improves customer satisfaction
- Solidifies customer retention
- Make clients feel more confident to advocate for your business
- Enhances the overall custom experience
It is good practice to provide as many ways to contact you or your staff as possible and to be available. Part of being transparent also means being accessible to deal with issues or concerns. (phone, email, text, online chat support, etc)
For example, if your product is going to arrive late for circumstances beyond your control, proactively communicate this to your customer so they will expect it. They may be unhappy, but they should hear it from you rather than the product coming late with no notice at all.
Key Takeaway: Open communication means personalized customer service is critical to developing strong customer relationships, trust, and customer loyalty.
Expectation #3: Follow Up With Customers!
Following up is an easy way to earn customer trust and confidence. Most people do not enjoy writing bad reviews or filing formal complaints. However, when customers do have bad experiences with your business, it is important that they feel like someone is listening and cares.
Throughout the customer journey, customers must be actively engaged so they build connections with you, your staff, and the organization. Additionally, it is a great way to ensure your business is their first choice in the future when they need a product or service you offer.
For example, if competitors sell a similar product or service but your business is the one that consistently follows up with customers, chances are customers will choose your business the next time they require a product or service.
Consistently following up with customers allows for open communication which is a good thing for both parties. What’s more, following up demonstrates appreciation for their business, and allows them to be comfortable enough to discuss problems or issues they’ve experienced with your products, customer service, staff, or your company.
Expectation #4: Publish Online Customer Reviews
Online reviews help consumers make purchasing decisions. For example, customers are 63% more likely to trust brands with online reviews than brands with no reviews. Conversely, a lack of consumer reviews makes buyers feel increased risk, which makes them less likely to buy.
- Reviews promote a brand’s strengths and offerings, improve brand awareness and establish credibility and trust among their audiences.
- Reviews provide feedback about customer satisfaction, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Reviews can provide specific feedback to help you address weaknesses in your operations or products you may consider discontinuing.
- Reviews increase or decrease the credibility of the product or service in the mind of potential customers. In contrast, Companies with few or no published reviews are trusted less than those that are transparent!
- Reviews provide an incentive for you and your staff to improve product quality and enhance customer engagement.
- Respond publicly to customer reviews, only if you have something constructive or positive to say! Do not respond in anger or fear!
- Reviews can also provide opportunities to reconnect and re-engage with unhappy customers.
Make sure reviews are easy to find, offer constructive feedback, and provide relevant information. Delete inappropriate reviews such as insults. However, do not shy away from posting and responding to negative reviews; it demonstrates that you have customer interests at heart.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews and testimonials about your products, services, and shopping experience. This shows that you are confident in your customer support team & brand and interested in hearing what they have to say.
Expectation #5: Gain Customer Trust Through Transparency
Consumer trust is built on honesty, reputation, and interaction with customer service agents. In our hyper-connected world, brands are being penalized severely for dishonesty and inaccurate statements. This is today’s reality and is especially the case for consumer trust.
- 73% of customers will even pay higher prices for products and services from companies that operate with transparency
- 94% of shoppers are loyal to companies that operate with transparency
Leverage Honesty and Transparency to Build Trust
- Only promise what you can deliver; a broken promise means a fractured reputation and loss of trust.
- Do not sell products or provide services that you do not believe in or that you would not purchase yourself.
- Be transparent, and ensure your customer understands all of the pros and CONS of your products. Your customers will trust and respect you for it!
- Accept objections and criticism with humility; not every customer is a perfect fit for the products or services.
- Customer feedback, both good and bad, allows you to know what is working, not working and when adjustments need to be made.
In sum, The simple principle to follow comes from that cliched phrase, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” So the takeaway here is, when engaging customers, if in doubt about doing the “right” thing, just ask yourself, how would I expect to be treated if I were the customers?
Expectation #6: Do the Right thing & Run your Business Ethically.
Operating Ethically forms the foundation of all business relationships, including customers, employees, investors, vendors, partners, etc. A company that earns disrepute for being unethical will face consequences.
- 78% believe how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.
- 64% of consumers globally are belief-driven buyers. This means they are willing to buy or boycott a brand because of its position on a social or political issue.
- 70% of consumers are interested in hearing about the social, health, environmental, and safety impacts of the products they buy or the company that makes them. (Source)
- 69% of consumers “are much less or less likely to shop with a retailer in the future if an item they purchased is not delivered within two days of the date promised.”
A successful business survives on customer trust and the values & beliefs customers attach to them. One important foundation of customer trust is the perception consumers have of the ethical behavior of companies.
Key Takeaway: Customers have plenty of choices and do not tolerate even the slightest instance of unethical conduct.
When businesses lose customer trust, it destroys business progress, damages relationships, and strips companies of their reputation often developed over years of hard work. When customers leave, even the best and longest serving employees lose confidence in their employer, and the downward spiral continues.
The six standards we have looked at are not exclusive, but they provide a good starting point for retailers who want to build trust with their customers. By consistently demonstrating your commitment to these standards, you can create the foundation for a lasting relationship of trust with your customers. Have you put any of these measures into place in your business? What has been the result?
Thank you for reading our article!
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