In God, we trust, in business we pay. In simpler times this was the case. You had a rough idea of the product you were buying, you knew who you were buying it from and you paid cash and received things immediately. As purchase methods have become more convoluted trust has become more and more important in business. Of course, trust comes before the transaction, well at least the first one. Given the distance between us and the digital forms business has taken on trust needs to be established before the order. So as a business trying to attract new customers how do we establish trust?
Guarantees and Warranties
Nothing like a guarantee to assure a prospective customer that the transaction is safe to make. These take on many different forms including money back, warranties and other such guarantees. These are very effective because they give the prospect a known outcome. You should be aware that some guarantees and warranties are enshrined in our law of sale such a tacit warranty and a manufacturers warranty. Making your customer aware that you abide by these can gain you some much-needed trust.
Transparency is an underrated tool that people in business tend to lean on when something has gone wrong. However, the smart business person can use transparency to create trust that you can leverage on whichever way things go. For example, if you are in service business informing your prospect of the process they will go through when doing business with you is surprisingly effective. Knowing what comes next and when to expect it puts the customer at ease. If something goes wrong you have a starting to point to explain from.
This is one that is often abused but is very effective when done right. Staff profiles work in two ways. Firstly they let you know who you are dealing with which brings a degree of comfort. The ability to put faces to names is a step better than having faceless names. Secondly, they let you know what you are dealing with and this is where the abuse occurs. Your staff credentials are only important as they are useful to customers. So your hobbies are less important than how much relevant experience you have. To avoid such a violation be clear on why you are creating staff profiles. And remember people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Testimonials are really effective at gaining trust of customers but these too have suffered abuse over time. Real testimonials from real people are more effective than nondescript statements from customers that are obviously not real people. Soliciting reviews and testimonials from your customers will give you more than something to leverage for trust but also an insight into what existing customers value most and what will likely appeal to new customers in the process gaining their trust.
The problem of businesses versus people is not isolated to Zimbabwe but we have certainly seen a fair share of it. Businesses are however owned and run by people who more often than not live in the same conditions as their customers. So the whole idea of businesses being evil is weird to me, to say the least. I will say this however, business owners can find ways to communicate on a human to human level rather than business to customer. The advances in the internet and social media have brought the small business feel back into fashion and you can take advantage of this to build trust. Firstly letting people know there are people behind the business who are somewhat like them. Secondly showing that you are cognisant of the experiences your customers go through and the factors behind them will also do you good. Finally, if something goes wrong communicating as a human will help more than robotic communication.
The key here is that trust comes before the sale but is useful during and after it. Customers have more options than ever and with the world moving towards being more homogenous is options and systems there is little to differentiate. A local mobile money payment is just as fast as an international debit card payment. A supplier in China can ship quicker than a local supplier. So we look at the things that can separate the wheat from the chaff and these keys to building trust are examples you can start working on today.