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Trust, as they say, is a two-way street. If you want somebody to trust you, you have to trust them a bit as well.
According to the official definition found in the dictionary, trust is defined as the “assured reliance” that a person might place on someone, or something.
I find it easy to see how this definition applies to the business world, and specifically the world of eCommerce, may it be products or services, B2B or B2C.
In fact, trust becomes critical when dealing with online customers. Nowadays, we are all swamped with so many service providers, sellers and endless amounts of advice. The result: We are all left overwhelmed.
Consumers today are much smarter and more resourceful than ever before. They know how to search, where to search and can quickly identify whether a brand is trustworthy, using hints and a predefined set of heuristics. They have developed their instincts and look for trust building elements to make their decisions.
It means that as brand owners, we need to make it on our customers’ trustworthy list, or more accurately, make it to the top positon.
The question is, given that we understand that trust building is the main key in our brand success, how do we create and communicate our brand as trustworthy? What elements do we use? and what effect does it have on our business? (not just in the airy-fairy way, we are talking numbers here) Essentially, how do we build brand trust and later our brand equity?
Well, I’ve gathered 6 ways you can use to build and boost your online customer trust.
(1) Step into the light and present the team behind your business
Everyone has an online presence. From a website, to a company page on Facebook and perhaps you’ve made the extra effort to tweet on occasion. But, one key lies in humanizing your website or app, so that people can know about the team working behind the scenes.
Why? Because we usually trust people more than organizations or corporates.
Yes, I mean freely using your names, profile pictures and alike. Ask around, you will see that many people love to connect with online sites where they get a feel of the people behind the scenes.
Don’t hesitate in adding photos of your team and short bios on your website or app. Doing this, adds a sense of credibility. Your customers can visualize the people behind the brand and they know that there are people they can trust and deal with.
One site I loved shopping on used to feature some different products every day, mentioning that they were selected by their stylist, putting her picture and bio on top. Customers like me, could even email her and ask for her advice. This had me come back for more.
Another site would use humor, featuring a weekly selected joke that’s related to the site products (this one sold fitness equipment and you can only imagine what the jokes were all about J)
Talk to your customers using personal communication channels (some platforms like ours, Bontact, lets businesses easily add multiple communication channels on their websites) such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, Line or alike. Imagine how easier it is to trust a business that lets you initiate a support or sales request via the personal IM apps you love and are used to using to chat with friends and family…
(2) The way you look matters
Remember the good old fairytales? The bad guys were never good looking. They are pretty ugly, to be more accurate. Of course, this has nothing to do with reality, as some fine-looking people can be an absolute nightmare. Others, that aren’t so lucky to ‘endure’ not so nice looks (and that’s being generous) are often kind, smart and overall great people.
But, still, unconsciously, people follow this sad heuristic. We all tend to trust nice looking people better. BTW, it does make a little sense, when thinking about it. If your daughter brings home a neat and tidy date, the chances are higher that this guy comes from a descent family, aren’t they?
Brands that understand the ‘looks’ heuristic, perfect their look and feel (in marketing we call it L&F) and gain a lot of trust. In fact, in some industries, many competitors don’t look that great. well, if you belong in the category or industries, perhaps there is an opportunity to shine.
Make sure your website looks good and isn’t over crowded with content, both on desktop and mobile. Test it, using different browsers and mobile devices. Overview your social pages, desktop and mobile. Don’t forget inner pages. Don’t neglect the often forgotten footer as well 🙂
(3) What other people say about you matters
Testimonials and reviews written by customers on to your site or app scream credibility (people like to know that someone already engaged with you, and that they were satisfied).
Don’t fear bad reviews. Negative reviews provide a chance for you to show off your fast response, willingness to help and transparency.
Problems happens. We all have faults and make mistakes. Show people that you know how to deal with criticism and complaints and gain valuable trust. Of course, feel free to remove feedback that uses bad language or that’s irrelevant. But do keep the others, they will serve you well.
There are plenty of customer reviews add-ons like this one, for example. If you use Shopify, Wix, WP or alike, use the plugins store to search for the tool you most like.
Proactively collect feedback, by sending an email with a request for a feedback (you can even offer a bonus credit for the next purchase as a courtesy, to make the email more appealing and to encourage people to visit your website, leave a feedback and come back for more purchases later on). Important, don’t offer any rewards in return for feedback. This will impact the honesty of the reviews and will damage your trust building efforts. If your product or service is good, and your support is great, there’s no need to offer something in return for a review.
(4) Are you being honest?
There’s a reason why so many successful entrepreneurs say that honesty and transparency is the best policy (perhaps this got you in to some trouble as a child) if you wish to gain trust.
We spoke about how smart and resourceful our customers are these days. So, it’s not difficult for customers to spot a lie.
Make sure you don’t add any hidden costs or loopholes when providing a service. Always include the fine print (T&C’s), be transparent. Not only may this protect you as a brand in the future, it shows you have nothing to hide.
Offer great service
Also, try to provide maximum freedom to your clients. If they want, they should be able to cancel their order or request and get a refund without any delays.
Explain how things work
Set realistic expectations, inform them of realistic delivery times, include order tracking and make them feel informed and a part of the entire purchasing journey. Setting honest expectations with clients and being proactive about making them understand everything in advance, builds trust.
It minimizes room for error and disappointment. you may be losing one sale in the short term but you are losing a potentially disappointed customer, which means you are minimizing chances of headache. No one wants or needs a headache.
Use humor to soften
Some sites provide a lot more info than other sites. They go the extra mile about the bits and bytes including some warnings or data that may reduce the conversions. They tell the truth. It takes courage to do so, especially when the competition keeps silent (about specific materials or ingredients that can be unhealthy, for example).
Some brands started using humor, when describing the bits and bytes, and I find this a great solution. Tell the truth using a healthy sense of humor and your customer will respect you even more.
For example, I saw this in a site I once visited: “… We are letting you know this, because you should and we are transparent. Why are other brands keeping quiet? There’s no other explanation, besides them being a chicken, no offense our beloved hens and roosters customers” …
Long story short, don’t become a ‘conversions slave’ on the expense of being honest. Build trust, it’s more beneficial than short term sales.
(5) Modesty is a key
Love this analogy about the “too happy couple”… always ridiculously posting their love in the social, using nicknames, I can’t even... Eventually everybody around are convinced it’s all a show and things are about to collapse at any minute. Nobody believes them anymore. And then often, they are in fact the first ones break up.
In the case of advertising and promos, less is more. Now, of course as a brand you need to advertise and everyone loves a promotion, but it’s important to be strategic in what and how you deliver.
In the case of flashing images, distracting ads, less is more. you must find the balance that makes sense. Include native ads (advertorials), use creative content and imagery to entice customers but not too much that it deters them.
Again, it’s a game of balance. Remember, visiting a company websites is all about having a brand experience. This always reminds me of when I go shopping and the sales attendant near the perfumes/aftershave spays me involuntarily. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing to smell nice but how you deliver your messages shouldn’t feel like you got sprayed with something you didn’t want.
If you bombard your customers with promos and advertisements all over the site, you get them confused and feeling overwhelmed. Confusion doesn’t go well with trust. Host them well on your site, make them feel comfortable and guide them through. How? Provide information when and where required, and by following a logical flow.
Keep your messages clear and concise.
Just like in everyday life it’s easier to trust someone who speaks and explains things clearly, it’s easier to trust a brand that you don’t feel is yelling at you and using terms you don’t understand.
By the way, the amount of promotions and shiny elements is a cultural trend, I always say. We design things differently today than what we used to a couple of decades ago. Even food is served differently today, compared to the 80s.
So, when thinking about how much to dress up your website or app, consider your target audience and what your potential customers will appreciate.
(6) Now that you like what you see, It’s time for some foreplay.
Think about foreplay, in the context of an online business, please 🙂
Most potential customers who visit your site aren’t yet ready to make the purchase, or not yet ready to commit. Some are on the fence about what (or even if) to buy. Your mission is to lead them in the right direction.
Well, here comes content to your aid. Genuine, quality content is a superb tactic for trust building. It shows that you are putting an effort into your customers and that you support them well, even before they bother to purchase your goods or services.
You can offer free recipes if you are selling kitchen accessories, or offer valuable tips if you are selling insurance. Almost every product or service in this world can be sold using content marketing.
If your resources are limited, you can link to third-party guides.
Another great technique to gain trust by enriching your site is to use comparison tables.
It says “I know you are wondering if you are getting a good deal, and yes you are,” here is the research, we’ve done it for you.
How it’s done? Simple, make sure your website or eCommerce app has enough ‘foreplay’ materials.
(7) Chat, Message, Text and Talk to Your Customers
Opening multiple communication channels for your customers, is one of the most important methods to gain online customers trust and to increase conversion rates. Also it’s what we do here at Bontact, so there’s no way I am skipping this tip out J
By going the extra mile and opening multiple channels, you are allowing your online customers to talk to you, right there, right now, when they need to and how they wish to.
In other words, you are letting them know that you are reachable and interested.
Many sellers I know worry about the support efforts that they will encounter if they open up their communication channels. I say, really? Do you really believe that if your customers will not have enough channels they will settle for nothing? No, they won’t. It’s more likely they’ll be dissatisfied, leave negative feedback, and never return.
How can you open multiple and out-of-the-box communication channels, you ask?
Well, you can either manually integrate several technologies/software or APIs onto your website.
Alternatively, (and here it comes, wait for it), you can use a multi communication channel solution such as… Bontact – A one stop shop that allows you to seamlessly add multiple communication channels like FB messenger, WeChat, Telegram, Line, Viber, Voice, SMS, the “regular” web chat and more, with no need to connect directly to service providers.
Yes, I know that you have thought your website, mobile app and conversion funnel through. But, have you intentionally put your best efforts in to creating a trustful presence?
It’s the small things combined that make the impact. Proactively do things to build trust. And have patience.