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    How to Engage Customers in Retail – Building Trust


    “Trust is like the air we breathe – when it’s present, nobody really notices; when it’s absent, everybody notices.”

    -Warren Buffett

    It’s no secret that building trust with customers is critical for a successful retail store or online shopping business. Earning Trust is a long-term approach to customer engagement and retention because Trust is not given; it is earned! However, many retail owners and managers struggle with finding new and innovative ways to engage customers and build trust. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to earn Trust through:

      1. Reliability
      2. Honesty and transparency
      3. Customer experience and
      4. Professional accreditations

    How to Engage Customers in Retail – Building Trust

    The Global Pandemic has made Trust the New Currency.

    The Pandemic has brought Trust to the forefront of retail customer expectations, particularly in eCommerce businesses. Trust implies that consumers are more loyal and engaged. Retail customers offer trust as a foundation for your company, when they advocate, businesses attract additional consumers who are ready to invest in their product.

    • 90% of consumers say it’s important to trust the companies they support (StrategyOnline)
    • 84% of respondents say they tend to recommend products and services from companies they trust (StrategyOnline)
    • 85% of customers say they are highly loyal to trusted brands.
    • 33% of consumers say they don’t trust internet-only businesses to act in their best interest (FitSmallBusiness)

    Problems included late delivery, non-delivery, inaccurate updates, damaged goods, etc. As a result, 44% of consumers will prioritize brands they’ve purchased before within the following year.

    Leverage Reliability into Trust!

    Customers want and require a feeling that the product they receive from a retailer or service provider will be excellent every time. The foundations of building long-term relationships with consumers, including customer retention and loyalty, are consistency, dependability, and predictability. Reliability means that:

    • Customers can expect the same level of service each time they interact with your business
    • The product arrives at the customer’s front door undamaged and on time
    • The product the customer orders is in stock after they have purchased it
    • The company must deliver on promised services dependably and accurately
    • Make every business process easy for the customer, user-friendly websites, apps, payment policies, and return policies

    Customers will trust a business after it has demonstrated that it can consistently deliver on the expectations it has set for itself. If you truly want to improve customer engagement, deliver on expectations or manage them better.

    Customers Want to Engage with Businesses & People they Trust.

    Customers trust you if they believe in your company. This means consumers will be more loyal and engaged, resulting in increased advocacy, loyalty, and customer engagement. Trust establishes the tone for your company, allowing businesses to attract loyal customers who are ready to invest in their products. In a recent survey study on brand ethics, results showed:

    • 92% of consumers questioned felt that brands didn’t listen to them enough (Eptica)
    • 59% highlighted giving satisfactory and consistent answers as vital to creating Trust. (Eptica)
    • 56% of customers said they would no longer do business with a brand that had used their data unethically. (Eptica)
    • 35 % of consumers stop buying from brands they perceive as unethical even if there is no substitute available (Mintel)
    • 62% of a company’s ethical values and authenticity influence purchase consideration (MarketingDive)
    • 63% of consumers said making processes easy was a top-three factor in building trust with a company (Eptica)

    One of the most telling metrics of successful retail customer engagement is advocacy aka, word-of-mouth marketing!

    Honesty and Transparency Build Trust

    Trust is built on honesty, reputation, and consumer interaction. In our hyper-connected world, brands are being penalized more severely for dishonesty and inaccurate statements. This is today’s reality and is especially the case for consumer trust in e-commerce transactions.

    Leverage Honest 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.
    • If your product will arrive late for circumstances beyond your control, communicate this to your customer so they will expect it. They may be upset, but they will lose trust in you for not telling them.
    • Provide as many ways to contact you or your staff as possible! Part of being transparent also means being accessible to deal with issues or concerns. (phone, email, text, online chat support etc)

    The simple principle here 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?

    Customers Trust Family & Each Other

    The relationship between consumers and companies is just as essential, if not more so than any other personal connection. When a retail business can establish a genuine, honest connection with a client, something unique happens: it creates brand loyalty and sets the foundation of a consumer-brand bond.

    • 97% of consumers read online reviews, but they trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. (Brightlocal)
    • 82% of consumers go to review sites because they want to buy a service or product (Brightlocal)
    • 89% purchase within a week of visiting review sites, and (Brightlocal)
    • 29% purchase an item after reading reviews that satisfy their concerns (Brightlocal)

    Reviews allow businesses and customers to build a relationship with one another.

    Leveraging Customer Experience into Trust

    Publish your reviews without hesitation, if you have done your due diligence you have nothing to fear! Reviews should be part of your business or marketing strategies and apply to both customers in-store and online!

    • 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.

    The Customer Experience Journey Continues after the Purchase

    The essential customer service and engagement happens after the sale. After-sale customer service establishes long-lasting trust or distrust. Either way, know that the retail customer experience continues after the item has been purchased.

    • 77% of poor experiences are directly related to problems after the buy button (Digital Commerce)

    Moreover, as reported by BrightLocal, reviews are undeniably an established and growing method of emotion-based customer engagement. It is important to note that establishing an emotional connection with customers provides 23% more revenue than non-engaged customers (BrightLocal).

    Accreditations Build Trust and Lasting Customer Loyalty

    In a recent study, Strategy online reported that third-party recognition is an important factor in winning consumer trust. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say that professional accreditations, awards, certifications, or other expert recognition from trusted third parties were just as necessary as recommendations from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

    • Accreditation ensures that a business adheres to sound quality standards, financial management policies and procedures, administrative processes and practices, operational requirements, and legal compliance.
    • Accreditations helped customers feel more confident about purchasing decisions, highlighting the vital role these endorsements play in shaping public perceptions about different companies, brands, and products.

    Professional accreditations allow customers to feel that your company’s products are safe, that you treat your employees, and that the business operates transparently. This type of customer engagement  applies to both in-store experience and to online retail stores.

    Engaging customers and earning trust is critical for business in the current retail environment. The foundations of long-term relationships with consumers, including customer loyalty and retention, are consistency, dependability, and predictability. In a hyper-connected world, brands are being penalized more severely for dishonesty.

    The most important customer service and engagement happen after the sale; this is when customers decide whether your company is trustworthy or not! Professional accreditations allow customers to feel that your company’s products are safe, that your employees are well treated, and that you are operating transparently. These are all essential elements of customer engagement and earning trust.

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