Businesses don’t exist without customers. It doesn’t matter whether you are working in the B2B or B2C segment, your clients must trust you. When clients are loyal to you, they return to you, recommend you to their peers, and buy more goods and order more services. If you don’t build trust with your customers, you will never succeed. Building trust offline seems to be a strong suit for small business owners, who often have the luxury (if not the necessity) to know their customers individually. However, for most companies and entrepreneurs building trust online is a challenge. Like offline trust, online trust requires a high level of service, consistency in your work, and transparency in your collaboration.
Factors Influencing Small Business Trust
When we talk about building loyalty and trust, we need to remember what leads to losing trust online. Consider this; you are constantly interacting with brands and companies. What in your day-to-day life helps you to trust a brand, and what makes you turn away?
Here are some of the main mistakes small businesses are making to lose their customers’ trust:
- Unprofessional, hard to navigate website. The most important information – like services offered, prices, discounts, and most importantly – contacts should be easy to find. Do not expect customers to take on all of the leg work – make sure they can easily everything they may need.
- Overly low/overly high prices. Sure, Apple can obviously get away with very high prices; and plenty of low-cost airlines get away with very low ones. Still, when an average buyer sees an extreme price for an average product or a service, they will start looking for the catch.
- Ignoring security of customer. If you provide your services online, if you accept payments online, or if you ask for any information from your buyers online, you’re could be putting them at risk. Potential leaks in the personal information stored on your website could cost you long-term customer relationship.
Building Customer Loyalty and Trust Online
Even if these basics are covered, your customers will require more than the minimum effort to truly trust your brand. Here are a few ways to establish loyalty with your buyers.
Connect on social media
Social media is important for any type of business, regardless the services you provide. Through Facebook or Instagram, you can sell your products, promote your business, attract new clients, and more. Most importantly, you can use social media to connect with your clients.
Social media can help to expand the customer experience. What do they know about your company? Do they know who stands behind your business? Use social media to talk to your customers, to share some information with them, to tell about what’s going on in your company, what offers you have for them, and how they can use your services.
You can also use social media speak with your clients. Using direct messages, answer their requests and messages, and never ignore their comments. Comments can be a great chance to build a real, lasting relationship with your potential clients. By quickly responding to comments and making your replies as human and valuable as possible, you become a person, rather than a business. Always focus on building a personal connection!
Social media is also a great source for positive and negative feedback. It can be tempting to review or disagree with a negative review, but that can be detrimental to your brand. Never delete the comment; instead, work to solve the problem or rectify your mistake. Satisfy the customer as much as possible, and make whatever changes you can to avoid the situation in the future.
Provide online support
Most customers have at least one question about your product or service. Oftentimes, however, they are unsure of where and how to ask. In these cases, customers will often leave your website and look for some other company that offers enough assistance.
If you want to build trust online, offer support. At a minimum, add your contact details so that the clients can reach you when they have issues. Even better, use various applications and tools that help to integrate contact forms or chats on your website. When you get messages, be sure to respond quickly and personally.
Develop a loyalty program
Everyone is looking for lower prices and better services. Even if you deliver 5-star service, customers could still leave you. Loyalty programs can be the best way to keep customers on your side. (Need proof? Think of Starbucks using an app and star system to keep customers coming back.)
The answer is not to give discounts for every single client and every single event. However, using a loyalty program that rewards return customers or large purchases encourages sales. Loyalty programs can also function to celebrate personal moments in your customers’ lives, like birthdays or holidays. In doing so, customers continue to build a personal relationship and favor your support for their own lives.
Build trust through providing value
Discounts and special offers are not the only things that sell. In fact, your business shouldn’t be selling every time you interact with a customer. Sometimes, attracting a customer is about giving instead. Provide value to your market through information and education. This most often manifests as a blog, but could also be a video, guide, or advice.
Similarly, social media channels are great assets to provide daily value to your potential customers. Email marketing is also a great asset to share your own helpful content or great content from industry experts.
Building loyalty with your customers takes more just the desire. It requires months of work, persistence, and communication. But mostly, it’s about consistency. Never stop improving your service and satisfy the desires of your clients. The more you do for your customers, the better it is for your business.
Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of writing, blogging, entrepreneurship, and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Currently, Richard works as a general blog editor for ProWritersCenter Follow him on Twitter and Facebook