Your guide to building (and keeping) customer trust — because without it, you won’t land sales.
What is customer trust?
The question of how to gain trust is an important one for business owners, particularly those in e-commerce. But what exactly is consumer trust?
Customer trust is the certainty a person has that a business will do what they said they would do; that a product or service will live up to the sales pitch; and that the business will not inflict any kind of harm on them.
In short: it’s the confidence shoppers have in a business or brand.
Why is gaining customer trust necessary?
It’s very simple: if a customer doesn’t (or isn’t able) to trust you, then he’s not going to buy from you.
It’s not only about sales though because without trust, prospects won’t even be willing to engage with you.
In other words, trust in your brand is a matter of business survival; trust is necessary for success.
But don’t be mistaken because customer trust isn’t a given. You have to earn it—that’s done over time. And unfortunately, trust can be lost with the just the slightest of missteps.
That’s why marketers must work hard to build and maintain consumer trust—especially when a business lives purely online.
How do you build trust with customers?
Everything can feel like a catch-22 when you’re just starting out.
You have to spend money to make money and you need to have customers to acquire new customers. So what’s the deal with trust?
As you just read above, trust is hard to earn but so easy to lose. And once lost, it’s incredibly challenging to ever gain it back—if at all.
But don’t let that discourage you because the following tips on how to gain trust – and then keep it – can be achieved by any business. Yes, even those with a modest budget!
The role your website plays in providing assurance
First things first: when we talk about trust we’re usually referring to two distinct aspects that go hand-in-hand.
- How trustworthy you are as a business / brand.
- The perceived (and actual) trustworthiness of your website. After all, the issues of cybersecurity, personal data and privacy matter to all of us.
Fact is both are needed to build consumer trust. So if you’re wondering why online shoppers don’t convert on your website, chances are at least one of those elements is missing—or you’re making critical e-commerce mistakes.
Must-haves for a credible online store
1. Purchase an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate is a must-have if your website uses contact forms, accepts online payments or collects personal information of any kind. In other words, just about every website out there!
What does an SSL certificate do? It has two key functions:
- It authenticates the identity of a website.
- It provides an encrypted connection between browser and server, i.e. transactions (data passed between them) remain private.
So you can see why you’d need one to build trust with customers.
What happens if you don’t invest in one? Bad things, like:
- Search engines brand your website as ‘unsafe’.
Before they land on your site, visitors are met with a warning page encouraging them to “go back to safety”.
- Your pages won’t rank as highly.
SSL-secured websites are viewed more favorably by search engines.
Make sure to read more about SSL certificates over here and Google’s suggestions here. But if we have to summarize it all: just get one.
2. Offer trusted payment channels
You want people to feel safe (and be safe) shopping on your website. You also want to minimize the pain of paying (and keep regret at bay). That way, prospects are more likely to proceed with a purchase—and come back again in the future.
So if you want to reduce customers’ perceived risk when transacting with your website, give shoppers reliable and trusted ways to pay.
If possible, and if it makes more sense in your country, you might even consider the option of cash on delivery.
3. Write great product descriptions
What does your product description have to do with gaining customer trust? Frankly, a lot!
Product descriptions do way more than describe what you’re selling – they shape perception as well as value and should contain all the information consumers need in order to assess the product and eventually decide whether to buy or not.
Imagine you’re trying to find celiac-friendly cereals. Or you’re searching for the best laptop for graphic design work and video editing. What about if it’s your first time purchasing winter gear for an upcoming trip to Iceland?
In all three scenarios, the product description is your guide.
- What can this product do?
- Does it have the specifications you need?
- Will it provide the functions you want?
A barely-there description or a confusing one doesn’t give the shopper all that much confidence in you or the product itself—and that often results in the loss of that sale.
4. Keep your web copy up to date
Beyond product descriptions, customers expect complete, accurate and relevant information from you.
If your website looks like it came out of the stone ages or hasn’t been updated in months, how can you gain consumers’ trust?
To earn customers’ trust, you must be proactive in managing – and maintaining – your website. It’s just one way to show that you’re on top of your game.
How to earn (and grow) brand trust
1. Keep your promises
Keep your word because no one likes a liar. In other words, the easiest way to earn customer trust is to do what you said you’d do.
2. Invest in your customer service
Whether you’re a one-man show or a large corporation, it always pays to provide outstanding customer service.
An excellent experience can elevate your brand’s image and win customer loyalty. A poor customer service experience can ruin any goodwill you’ve built up and lead to a loss of trust in your brand.
3. Share testimonials and real customer feedback
If you can, do include social proof on your e-commerce website. That can be in the form of highlighting product likes, including customer reviews or ratings, or other signals of trust like featuring the testimonials of happy customers.
4. Keep an open line of communication
Know that feeling of utter irritation when you email a company and it takes them ages to respond – if they ever respond at all? We all hate it when that happens. But frustration aside, chances are, it even taints our perception of the brand. We stop trusting them because, honestly, how hard is it to respond? If that’s how they handle correspondence with customers, what can we expect of everything else they do?
5. Be transparent
Recognize that people have different boundaries with regards to the collection of their personal data. That means if you want to build trust with customers, you’ll need to do the following:
- If you have a newsletter or send out any marketing emails, make sure people you add to your list have opted in. That is, you’ve received their permission to contact them!
- Don’t spam those who’ve been gracious enough to trust you with their contact data.
6. Say no to clickbait
Content writing is one of the best ways you can engage prospects and build relationships with them. When you take the time to create useful and relevant articles for your readers, you’re showing them that:
- You are serious about what you do (and you know what you’re doing)
- You’re invested in your audience
- Your business is in it for the long haul
Content writing involves treating your readers with respect. That means providing real value and definitely no clickbait. After all, no one appreciates being fooled into clicking on a headline that has very little to do with the actual content inside.