Improving Online Consumer Trust: Six Things That Work
The Internet can be extremely helpful for businesses who want to expand their reach, but it comes with its own unique challenges. One of those is building relationships with their consumers. There are several problems standing in your way ranging from the anonymity, which makes it much harder for consumers to really know and trust your business to finding complaints about your business. You can, if you aren’t careful, come across as nameless and faceless. This anonymity works both ways. Anyone can now jump online and start writing information about a business with little or no credibility. This leads consumers wondering whether or not they can trust anything that they see or read online.
It is your job, as a business, to build consumer trust online and we will discuss six possible ways to help you achieve this.
Be Warm and Personal
It is easy to become very impersonal, especially in the online world. You are dealing with people that could be virtually anywhere in the world. You can’t see faces, expressions, or anything else. Obviously, everything becomes impersonal by nature. If you want people to trust your business, then you absolutely have to change this, and that means being personal, warm, and inviting.
Direct every advertisement you create towards a single person, not a whole group. Use words like you, I, we, your, yours, instead of words like them or those. Additionally, when you communicate with customers online, whether it is on social media, on your website or through any, you need to be as personal as possible. Never offer consumers canned responses and never blow them off either.
Always Be Honest
Honesty is always the best policy. This is especially true when it comes to building trust with your consumers in the online space. If you are dishonest with a customer even once, this will ruin any trust you have immediately. All it takes is for one consumer to leave a social media comment explaining how you lied to them and that immediately will ruin your reputation; negative feedback grows legs very quickly. That’s because every other customer or potential will wonder what you may be lying to them about too.
Even if you think that being honest may look bad for you, it is always the best solution.
Always Detail Your Guarantees
If you offer guarantees about your products or services, then you need to be very clear about what they entail. This may mean going into extensive detail and covering all of your bases. You could be offering:
“If you aren’t satisfied, we will fix the problem”,
This isn’t very specific and can businesses in trouble.
If this does happen, your customers are going to be very distrusting of you. They will wonder how you will use that nebulous response to get out of doing anything for them. Make sure you always detail everything for your customers so that they can trust you to follow through and deliver on your promises.
Make Complaints and Concerns Easy
One of the biggest ways to damage trust is to make it impossible for customers to register complaints. If you completely take away any contact information, refuse to allow people to write on your Facebook wall without screening their posts, or remove negative feedback, your clients will believe that you have something to hide.
You are telling them that you don’t want to hear about it or that you absolutely don’t care if you clients are happy or not. This is giving consumers a very good reason to not trust your business at all. So, a vital part of handling consumers online is to always give them a way to voice their complaints or concerns. When you look at this the right way, you will see how that is an advantage to you as well. You will have a chance to shine and show how concerned you are about customer satisfaction. The more prompt and professional your response is to a customer’s complaint, the better you will look in their eyes.
Respond to Communications Quickly
On a similar note, you will get communications in different ways from customers. They may email, write on your Facebook wall, send a direct Tweet, comment on a blog, etc. If you want to build trust, then you need to respond as promptly as possible. These days, people like instant gratification. If they have to wait for days to hear from you, what do you think will happen? They won’t believe you are concerned about them at all. Instead, they will wonder if you even care to help them out in any way. This means ensuring all possible contact forms are consistently monitored is essential from a customer service point of view.
Even if customers leave positive feedback, always make sure you are responding promptly with a personalized message to let them know you heard them and do care.
All too often, people feel as if the big businesses are not accountable for their actions. Consumers think that the companies will do whatever they want whenever they want and nothing will happen to them. As a result, the perceived lack of accountability naturally builds distrust.
It is your responsibility to show specifically that you are accountable for your business actions. You can use social media and other online platforms to maintain accountability. You have to respond to people or they will get frustrated. You have to show that you are going to make things right when customers are unhappy through those outlets. Otherwise, other customers will see that you didn’t respond and assume you don’t care. And, that accountability will certainly go a long way in order to build trust, so use it to your advantage.
We live in a very distrustful world. People don’t have any reason to trust you as a business. You have to take specific action in order to build trust when there was none in the first place. And, through these steps, you can certainly become proactive about how your customers and potential clients view you as a trustworthy business.