Customer trust is a must-have for any successful business and its impact on purchase decisions is unquestionable.
Why do you buy the things you buy? Why do you buy them from that particular store or website?
Perhaps you answered, “because they are high quality products”, “because the store is close to you”, or “because the website has great customer service”.
You can bet that is how your customers will answer, too.
These factors — product quality, convenience, customer service, and others — influence customer trust in your business.
Learn more about customer trust, its impact on your business, and how to build it for the mutual benefit of your business and customers.
The impact of increased customer trust
Let these statistics tell the story of how customer trust impacts purchase decisions:
- 83% of customers say their brand loyalty stems from trust. (Nicereply)
- Brand loyalty leads to customer retention, which increases profits by 25% to 95% as customer acquisition cost (CAC) goes down.
- 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they have read a trusted review about it. (G2.com)
- 75% of people in the Edelman (the world’s largest independent communication firm) database say they actively recommend a business they trust.
Losing customer trust means losing business. Trust is so important that fear of losing it keeps over half of CEOs surveyed by PwC up at night.
In addition, if you close your eyes and ears to the digital transition, you will get left behind. According to UNCTAD, as lockdowns became the “new normal” amid the COVID-19 crisis, consumers increased their online shopping frequency. This grew the e-commerce share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020.
In this online world, trust is built in a slightly different way from the offline world. In both cases, it is based on how we communicate and serve. However your business needs to leverage multiple online touch points — websites, blogs, social media, reviews, multimedia and more — to effectively build trust.
So how do you build customer trust? Here are 8 ways.
Table of contents ↓
- Offer the best
- Be honest
- Be consistent
- Build social proof
- Get a review system that helps people trust online
- Steer clear of fake reviews
- Repair broken trust
- Build employee trust
1. Offer the best
Be it product or service quality or the way you handle queries, be the best you can be.
The products that customers purchase from you are representations of your brand. If your products do not meet expectations, that could decrease their trust in your business.
Offer the best product or service by taking time to understand your customers and solve their problems. Conduct surveys to gauge expectations and pain points and continually iterate. Listening allows you to gather feedback and data to improve. Listening also grows customer retention, a key way to keep spending to a minimum. 88% of business executives confirm that it is less expensive to keep customers than acquire new ones.
It pays to go the extra mile to deliver personalized experiences across the customer journey, from marketing to purchase and post-purchase. According to McKinsey, personalization has the power to deliver five to eight times the return on investment (ROI) on marketing spend, and increase sales by 10%+.
Once you understand your customers, you can show the value of your products and services in the most effective, customized way for them. Provide educational resources to help consumers make the most of your business offering. Some may prefer to read detailed product descriptions while others may just want to watch quick walkthrough videos. Some may just want to talk to someone.
8 in 10 customers said they would switch to a competitor due to poor customer service. Offer your customers the best, most proactive service, based on the channels they use to interact with your business. Meet them where they are, based on your research, not your assumptions. If your customers prefer WhatsApp as a mode of communication, you’d better be found there, ready with helpful answers to questions.
Customers remember how they were treated. Follow up after delivery to understand how they felt. Build a mutually beneficial relationship that keeps them coming back for more.
2. Be honest
Be as transparent as possible, even when things go wrong. When you let people know that something is wrong and that you are actively solving the problem, you will be surprised by the support you get.
We know this first hand, as we recently made a mistake we had to fix promptly. It involved communication, both internally and externally. We quickly identified the problem and worked on a solution, all while sharing the details with the community.
You might think that would dull the support from our community but it did the exact opposite. We issued an online apology detailing a solution, with timelines and an assurance that our community members did not need to do anything on their end. This post is among the most engaging content we have seen recently.
Be honest with how you use your customers’ data too. Transparency solidifies the trust that is enhanced by security. Give customers control over their data privacy. A survey by McKinsey shows that consumers trust businesses that limit the use of personal data and are quick to respond and fix security breaches.
3. Be consistent
The key to building relationships with customers is consistency. Relationships yield trust and loyalty. According to research by McKinsey, the three Cs of customer satisfaction are consistency, consistency, and consistency.
With multiple touch points across the customer journey both online and offline, here are some ways you can ensure consistency in service delivery:
- Have a clear mission that informs your company goals.
- Define your brand and stick with it.
- Create messaging and assets that reflect your mission.
- Share your mission and brand with your employees and customers — on your website, social media, events, product packaging and others.
- Keep your promises to your customers.
While striving to be consistent, measure your results. Make adjustments based on what you find. Don’t forget to ask customers what they think. If they are satisfied with a certain way of doing things but your metrics show that things need to change, communicate clearly every step of the way.
4. Build social proof
After making a purchase, customers will always have something to say about your product to anyone who asks. They will also say it online, especially today. By now it is a well-known fact that people will make purchase decisions based on recommendations from people they know. According to a recent Nielsen report, 83% of global consumers completely or somewhat trust the recommendations from friends and family.
We also ran a poll on Twitter in which our community confirmed the power of friends’ recommendations in making purchase decisions.
Broadcast your achievements, especially through happy customers. It is one thing to talk about yourself but it is a whole other thing to have other people talk about them without your influence. Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. Happy customers will build your online reputation without you asking.
Then complement these organic efforts by doing it yourself in these five simple ways:
- Show your numbers — customer numbers, app downloads, account signups, social media followers and similar stats — these show your product and service works for people like your customers.
- Have your social media links on your website that people can follow to learn more and see the social side of your business.
- Share what experts in your industry are saying about your business. These include news publications. When established media outlets cover your story, they confirm your business trustworthiness. “If Forbes can do a story on this, they must trust them, so can I!”
- Link to the news stories. In addition to adding a stamp of approval, these are great backlinks that build your website’s SEO.
- Include media logos as these will likely be familiar and authoritative with your potential clients.
- Screenshot and link to tweets by celebrities or experts about their experience with your business.
- Write case studies that describe in-depth how you helped a customer solve a problem that they struggled with. These prove that your solution works for real people.
- Display customer testimonials and reviews on your website, app, or on premises.
5. Get a review system that helps people trust online
Let us dig a little deeper into that last point about customer testimonials. Did you know that 75% of consumers shopping online use reviews to evaluate a product before purchasing? For those that end up in a physical store, 60% of them will start their research online. I know I do.
Leverage the power of online reviews by investing in a review service that is robust and empowers your customers to benefit from genuine reviews. At UTU, we’re helping people trust online by mirroring how we trust in the real world. Instead of showing anonymous reviews and star ratings, we go a step further and recommend products and services that are contextually relevant to your customers.
The UTU Trust API leverages social networks and other data to find connections between users to deliver these recommendations. For example, if a friend of one of your visitors purchased a product or service, it will be recommended to them. Also, if people geographically close to your customers like a certain product or service, we can point that out to them.
We have seen these socially-powered recommendations increase conversion rate and customer satisfaction by 20%+ under certain situations.
Remember that Nielsen report? 66% of people trust online reviews, which ranks third after branded websites and recommendations from friends and family. We combine the power of recommendations from people your customers know and online reviews to enhance digital trust.
So, what drives a customer to leave a review? Rewards? Reminders?
All of that and more. Asking for reviews does not hurt, just don’t spam. Think about it. If you keep getting review reminders on an app that is not making your life easier, you skip it very quickly. And if they are insistent, it just becomes a habit to skip the popup.
6. Steer clear of fake reviews
Do not solicit fake reviews. Full stop.
It may not look that way at first, but fake reviews do more harm than good in the long run, damaging your online reputation. While they may appear to drive sales for a bit, they may be trampled by real negative reviews from customers that were misled into purchasing in the first place. Don’t manipulate or trick people into buying products or services that they don’t need.
Fake reviews can be so harmful, 54% of consumers would not buy a product upon suspicion that the reviews they see are manipulated. For more stats on fake reviews, take a look at this great infographic from Invespcro.
As a business owner, you may think that glowing positive fake reviews will convince potential customers to buy your products or services. But did you know that 95% of people are suspicious when they don’t see bad reviews while evaluating products and services online?
Don’t fear negative real reviews every once in a while. Which brings us to our next point.
Sign up for more great tips on building Digital Trust.
7. Repair broken trust
Negative reviews will happen. You can’t please everyone every time. Customers have different expectations of your product or service. Mistakes happen too.
How you go about reacting to the critics and unhappy customers matters a lot. Take time to improve on the areas pointed out and make it clear publicly that you are doing so.
Here are some steps you can take to repair broken customer trust:
- Follow up on negative reviews immediately.
- Respond to questions promptly on social media.
- Correct the problem as soon as possible.
- Check in on inactive customers via email.
While on this journey, know how to tell trolls and genuine customers apart. Be prepared for trolls and stand your ground in a professional manner.
It is also important to remember that rebuilding trust won’t happen overnight. Be patient.
8. Build employee trust
Building customer trust goes beyond your customers. It begins with your employees.
Now more than ever, in the age of working from home, you need to revisit your company culture and your employees’ satisfaction. Dangling carrots — rewards and other financial incentives — will only work for a short period of time. Address any underlying issues that may affect your employees’ motivation.
Similar to customers, employee trust grows with consistency. Consistency in your vision and goals for the business. Consistency in recognizing their efforts and empowering them to perform in their roles.
Happy employees evangelize your vision. They help you offer the best. They can also add to the social proof your business needs online. A quick visit to LinkedIn will show you what happens when employees are proud of their workplace. They will drive awareness of your business by using several features offered on the platform – tagging your company page, resharing, commenting and reacting to your company posts, and more. In addition to attracting potential customers, you also attract new talent whose trust is enhanced by your existing advocates.
As the Harvard Business Review puts it, when employee trust goes down, speed goes down, costs go up. The inverse is true. Happy employees = Happy customers
The importance of trust in a business cannot be underestimated or understated. It affects every aspect of your business internally and externally and it’s up to you to consistently build it. Now more than ever, customers will trust brands and companies that are committed to improving their experience online and offline.
If you commit to these 8 ways to build customer trust, your business will benefit from increased customer retention, perpetual word of mouth advertising and increased profits.