Earning customer trust and loyalty is an important part of running any business.
However, according to research by HubSpot, 55% of customers no longer trust companies as much as they used to. Businesses are finding it harder to earn customer trust, and meanwhile, customers don’t trust sales and marketing teams. The most trusted sources of information when it comes to making a purchasing decision are word-of-mouth and customer references. Salespeople are the least trusted sources.
Earning customer trust is an important part of acquiring customers but also retaining loyal customers in the long-term. Retaining customers is more cost-effective than constant acquisition, so building relationships based on trust is paramount.
What is customer trust and why is it so important?
Customer trust is how much customers believe businesses will do what they say they are going to do. Customers trust businesses to meet their expectations and behave in an ethical way. They trust businesses to deliver on promises and provide a consistent level of service.
Customer trust is an important part of building customer loyalty and increasing retention rates. This is important, since a 5% increase in retention can result in at least 25% higher profits. 60% of loyal customers purchase more frequently from their preferred brands. Customer trust results in considerably higher profits, as well as being good for your brand’s reputation.
Building customer trust is about going the extra mile for your customers to take care of their needs and distinguish your business in the marketplace. Every interaction is another opportunity to live up to the fragile sense of trust customers have placed in your company, and make sure their expectations are not disappointed.
Now we’ll look at some of the ways you can build trust with your customers.
1. Deliver outstanding customer service
This is possibly the most important way that a business can earn customer trust. Your customer service team are the frontline employees who are dealing with customers every single day, and each interaction is the moment for businesses to fulfill customer expectations. It’s well worth your while, since 93% of customers are likely to make a repeat purchase with a business that offers excellent customer service.
Hire a team of dedicated support agents who have the skills to help your customers. Make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you through multiple support channels: live chat, phone, email, or social media.
When your customers contact you with questions or problems, ensure that your team replies with prompt, efficient, and consistent customer service. Create guidelines to help your agents deal with common queries, and ensure they have the necessary tools to find answers to the more complex problems.
Encourage your agents to treat your customers as valued individuals. Customers won’t trust you if they feel they’re being treated like a number. All customer service interactions should have a personal touch.
2. Be honest and transparent about your business
If you want to earn customer trust then you have to be honest and transparent about your business from day one. 86% of customers say that transparency from businesses has never been more important. From the first interaction a customer has with your brand, communicate clearly and authentically about your business’s products and services.
This means avoiding copy that is too “salesy” along with misleading marketing campaigns. You shouldn’t try to catch your audience’s attention through overblown claims about your products and services.
Make it exceedingly clear what you have to offer and ensure your customers’ expectations of your company are accurate. Involve the sales team in this process and make sure they are honest and upfront about pricing, fees, and terms and conditions. If customers are consistently confused or misled about a feature or service, flag this up with the sales team so they can adjust their sales pitch accordingly.
When it comes to existing customers, own up quickly if you make a mistake. Communicate honestly with your customers before they have to reach out to complain. You might put off a few customers this way, but the remaining customers will have increased trust in your brand.
3. Provide positive customer reviews and testimonials
When it comes to making a purchase decision, customers overwhelmingly trust other customers to help them make a choice. They trust customer reviews and testimonials to give an unbiased account of the company. 9 out of 10 customers say they trust what a customer says about a business more than what the business says about itself.
That’s why you should take the time to gather and promote positive customer reviews and testimonials on your website and on product pages. If you have real customers advocating for your products and services then you can use it to your advantage in making your offering more legitimate in customers’ eyes.
If you’re selling physical products as an ecommerce company, for example, make sure you display customer reviews on your product pages. If you’re a service-based company, gather client testimonials to display on a testimonials page on your site.
4. Ask for and act on customer feedback
Customers are willing to trust businesses they have made some kind of investment in – they prefer companies who demonstrate that customers truly matter to them. One of the best ways to show your business cares is to regularly ask for and act on customer feedback.
Send out surveys, ask for feedback after customer support interactions, and find ways to let customers contribute to improving your operations. This invokes the positive feeling of reciprocity. Show your customers that you value them for more than the money they’re willing to spend with you.
More than half of people believe companies need to act on their customers’ feedback. When you’ve gathered your feedback, if something they bring up resonates with you, or enough customers are saying the same thing, do something to improve your business.
When you make changes based on customer input, let them know. Close the feedback loop so customers know you are willing to listen and make changes. There’s no better way to build trust than to actually show customers you take their feedback seriously.
5. Be contactable
A business’s contact page is going to be one of the most-visited pages on your website. Make it easy for customers to find your contact details and provide as many channels for them to use as possible. If possible, give estimates for how long it usually takes a team member to respond.
90% of customers rate an immediate response (30 minutes or less) as very important when they have support questions. When customers want to reach out and contact you, they expect the response to be as fast as possible. This shows your customers that they matter to you, and fosters a sense of trust in the reliability of your service.
So be reliably contactable and don’t keep your customers on hold for too long. When they do finally get in touch with someone from your team, make sure the help they receive is thorough and professional.
Providing your customers with readily accessible and reliable customer service demonstrates that you deeply value their business. Showing your customers that you care is a surefire way to build trust.
6. Prioritize your customers
The only way to reliably deliver what your customers need is by developing a customer-centric culture throughout your entire company. It’s not going to work if the only team that focuses on customers is your customer support team – every team, from marketing, to product, to development, should have a stake in helping customers.
Encourage all your employees to think about your customers’ needs, and then the business is much more likely to make decisions that serve customers well. You can proactively improve the customer experience by keeping the customer front of mind at all times in your company’s operations.
When your whole company focuses on the customer, you can build products that meet their needs and delight them. By consistently meeting (and hopefully exceeding) your customers’ expectations, you can earn their trust and turn them into loyal fans.
Trust is the magic ingredient that creates meaningful long-term relationships with your customers. Businesses that take the time to foster trust will not regret it.
You need to make your customers your first priority at all times. It’s the only way to build a consistent sense of trust and loyalty towards your brand. It’s not something you can just apply sporadically and hope for good results.
Make sure your marketing and sales messages are thoughtful and honest. Gather the reviews and testimonials of real customers and share them with your prospects. Don’t abandon customers after the sale – deliver outstanding customer service, every time. Ensure your customers can easily contact you if they have a problem. Listen to your customer feedback and make improvements.
By earning the trust of your customers, you keep them coming back to your business for more, and telling all their friends. Read more on how to develop customer loyalty with these six customer retention strategies.