6 Simple Ways to Build Customer Trust
Trust in business is a fragile thing.
Here’s a quick story: In the span of 24 hours, two people told me to find an independent mechanic rather than take my car, which had a transmission problem, to a dealership, because the dealership “is in it for the money”.
I caught myself before asking one of them why an independent mechanic wouldn’t want to make a profit, too. What both of them meant, but didn’t quite say, is a common belief: that big companies are only in it for the money.
That belief is so ingrained in the minds of some people, they no longer question their distrust.
Working with a local business sometimes feels safer than dealing with a multinational company. An individual seller or service provider brings a one-on-one experience that should be superior.
Or so one might think.
I had another conversation with a friend who said she had an independent mechanic who sold her the worst car she ever owned.
So how do you establish lasting trust in your own business?
1. Say it like you mean it.
Write your sales copy with clarity and simplicity. Online attention spans are short. Get to the point.
2. Use empathy.
Your business fills a need, or desire, or solves someone’s problem. Show your customer you understand that. Make your customer feel like they’re the star of the show, no matter what kind of work you do.
3. Show social proof.
Reviews, testimonials, social media posts made by satisfied customers show your audience you’re a pro — and as a pro, you ask for testimonials, or for permission to share if you get an email saying how delighted someone is with your work.
4. Don’t manipulate.
Marketers will often tell you to focus on a customer’s pain points. While you need to understand what a customer wants or where they’re stuck (see “empathy” above), there’s a line you don’t cross if you want to maintain trust.
Don’t try to make your customer feel lousy about who or how they are. People are wising up to underhanded sales techniques that tell them they’re not young/thin/rich/pretty/successful enough. If someone feels like they’re being manipulated, they are.
5. Be reliable.
Have you ever waited (and waited and waited) for someone to reply to a voice mail or email? Have you ever had a project drag on until it was long past a deadline, or dealt with the frustration of a delayed delivery?
You might just have a golden opportunity right in front of you. Replying to messages promptly — during regular business hours — can make you a rock star in the eyes of your customers, especially if the standard in your field is flaky communications.
Meeting deadlines? That should be business as usual, unless something is entirely out of your control.
(Procrastination is not beyond your control. It’s a normal reaction to stress. Your brain does all kinds of annoying things to protect you from what it sees as risk, but it’s something you can fix.)
6. Deliver on your promises.
Give ‘em what you said you would, and maybe a bit more. A handwritten note, a little extra attention to packaging, that one small detail most other businesses in your niche don’t bother with can go a long way.
Bottom line: always do right by your customer. Say that’s what you do, then do it.