How to build trust with your customers

You can’t underestimate the role trust plays when it comes to influencing your customers. In fact 83% of customers will recommend that company to others and 82% will continue to return to that company in the future if they feel like the company is trustworthy.

And we’ve all seen what happens when a company loses the trust of it’s customers. In Australia a recent Royal Commission into the finance industry has left a lot of companies scramble to regain trust among front page news stories about their actions.

So - let’s dive into some suggestions of HOW to build trust with your customers:

Create consistent processes

It might sound strange but what works for kids also works for adults. Kids love routine and consistency and so do customers! Here are some thoughts about consistency:

  • Look at everything from end to end: I won’t use the expression "customer journey" because I hate any and all buzzwords but you know…. Think about each step your customer takes in making a purchase or signing up for your services.

  • Review, review, review: Always keep looking at how to make things better, whether it’s your own thoughts or feedback from customers.

Be Transparent

The business world has changed, you can no longer do something wrong and assume that you can keep it a secret.

I mean - you shouldn’t do anything wrong ANYWAY, but if you do screw up, the worst thing you can do is try to hide it.

The act of lying to your customers is normally worse than the thing you are lying about. There are so many examples (especially recently) of companies trying to hide something and being outed. If you look at the media coverage of these kinds of revelations, the focus is far more on how customers feel betrayed by the company. Once a customer realises you have lied to the them (whether it's on purpose or by omission) it is almost impossible to earn that trust back. 

Don’t risk your business by hiding something. Now that’s not to say you should be a completely open book - but if you’re going through something that impacts your customers, you should tell them. Here are some suggestions of how to approach different scenarios that might crop up:

  • Delay in delivery of a product: Email all customers that have ordered this product to let them know. Don't just say "delivery is now 6-12 weeks", explain why this is and what you're doing to resolve it. Offer them a refund for their purchase if they aren't able to wait that long, and consider offering free delivery (or similar compensation).

  • Breach of information: Unfortunately in our digital world this is more likely than before (even for a small business). If this happens you need to get in touch with your customers immediately, let them know everything you know, what kind of information might have been accessed and any recommended steps they should take (change passwords, cancel credit cards).

  • Not being able to meet a deadline for a service: Explain exactly why you can't meet the original deadline, what the new deadline will be and some alternatives that will allow you to meet the original deadline (a slightly different end product for example) or other service providers who can assist.

  • Changing how your business runs: Things change, but how you communicate that change is so important. Always communicate as far in advance as you can that things are changing, whether it's a product being discontinued, a service offering changing to how you run your business day to day. Remember to communicate when things will be changing, what this impact it has on the customer, and any sales or stock clearances you might be doing.

  • Something good happening: It's just as important to share wins in your business as it is to share challenging situations! Tell your customers when you reach a big business milestone or give them a sneak peek of a new product you're going to launch. People love to be included in the process, it makes them feel like they are part of your business, not just a passive consumer.

Only do things that are in the customers best interest

It’s easy to make decisions based on trying to earn more profit, build your business or have more “success” but if you make these decisions without considering your customers first, you aren’t working to build their trust.

You can make decisions that can build profit and serve your customers, but you really need to put your customers at the centre of everything you do.

Keep your promises

I mean at the heart of it, this is what trust boils down to - you have to do what you say you’re going to do. If I had a dollar for every time I was told by a customer that someone said they would do something for them and then nothing would happen, I wouldn't be super wealthy but I could definitely pay my rent for the month. It’s so much harder for a customer to believe that they’re going to get what they want or need the second time around.

So what do you do if you can’t follow through on something you promised? Well that’s when you can refer to my suggestions about being transparent above.