Think about yourself for a moment. Consider your spending habits and the businesses you choose when making your purchases.
Why do you favour particular businesses over others?
One reason could be better pricing. Another reason could be a better product or service.
And another reason, we are assuming, is probably to do with trust. Because after all, who in their right mind would choose a business that they couldn’t trust? Would you? You might take a risk, especially if opinion on a business was neutral, but if something happened to make you question using that business, we are guessing that you would probably consider spending your money elsewhere.
To paraphrase speaker and philanthropist Warren Buffet, it can take years to build up a good reputation in business, but it only takes five tweets to bring it to its knees. Larger brands can sometimes fight back. Samsung did, despite their exploding phones. Facebook did, despite the data breaches within their company. The power of their brand kept them alive, but considering the number of smaller businesses that go into administration, the little guys are not always so lucky.
The Importance Of Customer Trust To Your Business
We are guessing that you don’t have the brand recognition of Facebook and Samsung. If you did, your business might survive a lack of trust. Sure, you might see a dip in users or sales for a time, but you could probably bounce back. But if you’re one of the little guys, running a business that may be struggling to survive already in the competitive marketplace, you need to prioritize customer trust as soon as possible. If you don’t, potential customers are more likely to use a business that has already built up a positive reputation. And when you do acquire customers, you must never become complacent. Your customers are the lynchpin of your company, and if you do anything that breaks the trust they have put in you, there will be the following consequences.
Firstly, your customers might leave your business and shop elsewhere. You would probably do the same in their shoes, so this will be of no surprise to you. Secondly, they will talk about your business to others. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise to you, because as we all know, people do like to grumble! But whereas in the past any such grumblings would have been solely to family, friends, neighbours, and the people they sat next to on the bus, in today’s society, people are also likely to post news about your business online. That tweet about you could go viral. Facebook posts will be shared. And thanks to the legion of review sites, any one-star reviews you acquire will eliminate any interest in your business when people research you.
Worried? You don’t have to be. If you can achieve customer trust, and keep it, then your business has a fighting chance. You will make mistakes, of course, but if you have done enough to win your customer’s trust, they might stick with you, provided you make amends. However, if you neglect your customers, make mistakes that can’t be easily rectified with a simple apology and a promise to do better, then your business will be in a precarious position. The onus is on you and the way you run your business.
How You Can Gain Your Customer’s Trust
1. Offer excellent customer service. To avoid negative word-of-mouth, be a business that engenders positive word-of-mouth instead. Whenever a customer (or potential customer) contacts you, talk to them with respect and politeness. When they make a complaint, deal with the issue in a fair manner. Should they make a query, don’t brush them off with a glib response. As a business owner, you need to be professional but kind. Your customer’s need to know that you have their best interests at heart; that they aren’t just a commodity to boost your company’s profits.
2. Use your website. For starters, your website needs to look professional. If it is littered with spelling mistakes and broken links, you aren’t going to win over the trust of anybody looking to buy from you. After all, if your website isn’t up to par, your site visitors might assume the same is true of the rest of your business. Secondly, use your website to attract positive feelings in the people who have stopped by to see what you have to offer. With the services of Corporate Photography, you can display pictures of happy staff and customers within your business. You can display testimonials from the people who have used your business in the past. And you can proudly display professional affiliations and certifications your business has achieved. If your website looks the part, and if you can display signs of success, you might well achieve trust from both your customers and your soon-to-be customers.
3. Run an ethical business. Business giants such as Amazon and Walmart have been accused of unethical practices because of the way they treat their staff. Nestle has long been subjected to boycotts for a range of bad business practices, including the irresponsible way they market baby milk to the third world. Primark came under fire for their use of child labour. And there have been many instances of companies damaging the environment, from Pepsico who allegedly trashed rainforests to further their production of palm oil, to Exxon and their large-scale greenhouse gas emissions. While many people continue to use these companies, there are still those who actively avoid them, because they, as we all should, care about the world and its people. The lesson for you is simple: run an ethical business. By treating your staff well and by taking steps to green your business, you won’t receive the media and customer backlash that the aforementioned businesses have already received. An ethical business is a trustworthy business, and many customers will be looking for evidence of this when they visit your website and research your company.
4. Deliver on your promises. If you say you are going to do something, then do it! It’s a no-brainer. As soon as you break your promises, you are going to tarnish the trust others have put in you. So, don’t promise such things as next-day delivery if you know this can’t always be achieved. Don’t promise a cheaper price guarantee against your competitors if your business can’t sustain it. And don’t promise anything on your website or in your promotional materials if there is a chance that you won’t be able to live up to your bold statements. As we said earlier, mistakes can be made, but if you continually renege on your so-called promises, you will lose all trust in your customers, and your business will suffer the consequences.
Thinking about your business and what we have said thus far, how would you rate your operation? Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer.
– Would you be happy to use your business?
– Would your website engender trust in you?
– Would your staff instill you with positive feelings?
– Would you be satisfied that your business practices were compliant with ethical standards?
– Would you, as somebody who has the power to choose from a range of companies, favour your business as your number one choice?
If you have any doubts, then the same is probably true of your customers and business visitors. By taking a step back, and considering how somebody else might feel, you can then do what needs to be done to win that all-important trust. As we said earlier, the onus is on you. And should you earn your customer’s trust, do what you can to keep it. Continue to run an excellent business. Back up your promises with your actions. And run a business that you can be proud of.
But should you make a mistake? Should you break your customer’s trust? Quickly do what needs to be done to make reparation. Make a public apology, and show your customers what you can do to make things better. The sooner you take action, the better, as that negative word-of-mouth will start to spread if you don’t take the proverbial bull by the horns and do something to turn things around.
So, think about what we have said today, and do what needs to be done, for your benefit, as well as for the benefit of your customers. Because as we said, customer trust is essential if you want to survive in business.