How to build trust with your customers
Trust is a difficult thing to build, whether you’re starting a retail business from scratch, you’ve taken one over, or your existing retail business that you’ve decided to diversify. And even when trust has been built successfully, it is very easy to lose, so you need to continue to prove to your customers that they will always get the service they want and deserve.
So building trust with new customers is likely to be the main thing you’re concerned about, but after you have won the customer over, it is a case of being consistent, providing five star service, and continuing to prove that your business will deliver.
Why is trust important for eCommerce businesses?
Put simply, if no prospective customers believe that their order will arrive, or there’s a chance that you’ll misuse their personal information, they won’t buy from you, and you won’t have a business! That means creating a strategy that means customers see evidence that they can trust you as soon as they encounter your business, wherever they encounter it.
What can I do if there is no trust yet?
Whichever stage your business is at, making sales through marketplaces will undoubtedly be part of your strategy. Customers shop on Amazon and eBay, as well as others because they trust the marketplaces will deal with any issues that they have with an order, and so you’re essentially borrowing the trust of the marketplace for your business.
While getting those sales in is great – and especially so when you’re in the early stages of your business – just trading on marketplaces leaves your business potentially exposed to difficulties because of the lack of control.
- You have no way of influencing what other products your range are listed against, meaning that it can be difficult to get customers to choose you unless you’re the cheapest – which isn’t great for your bottom line.
- Your listings won’t have any reviews, so you may find it tricky to make sales – customers are likely to gravitate towards other listings.
- If you accidentally get something wrong, it is possible for your account to be suspended, in some cases permanently, and you may not be able to access the funds that you’ve accumulated on that marketplace.
Having much more control over your business includes building your own website, and your social media presence – which is a lot of hard work, but well worth it in the longer term.
How can you increase trust?
Unfortunately, you can’t make your customers just trust you when they first encounter you – trust doesn’t work like that, both with people, and with businesses that you’ve just discovered. But there are steps you can take to increase that trust, and we’re going to guide you through some of those steps here.
Remember that first impressions count
However your customer comes across your business, you need to get that absolutely perfect – so be certain that you’ve followed all the advice here, and if you can, get someone who has never seen it before to take a look and give you feedback.
- Your website needs to look professional, well designed, and curated with your target customer in mind
- Website security should be well set up and clearly visible
- The customer journey to purchase needs to be easy, with secure checkout options
- Your Google Business listing needs to be claimed
- Your social media profiles should be well managed, with replies to comments
- Claim your business on review websites
Wherever you’re interacting with customers, or publishing online, be certain to interact in a highly professional manner, even if a customer is being unreasonable. That also includes getting your language right – including spellings! The odd error that is clearly a typo may be forgiven by most people, but it is important to proofread carefully and catch as many errors as you can, since poor use of language will deter many customers. You only have to think about listings on Amazon that are clearly written by non-native speakers to know that you would probably avoid those listings yourself – and your customers are likely to be the same.
Enhance your credibility and show you care
We all look to reviews to discover whether a company is one that we want to do business with – whether that is in our personal lives, or when we’re choosing who we want to partner with. With that in mind, you need to make the best use of any and all reviews. Claiming your company on review websites like Trustpilot is a good first step, but you need to monitor to make sure you don’t get any negative reviews – and if you do get them (most companies do, sooner or later), responding to them.
The point of review websites is that they are impartial. Companies can’t remove those poor reviews, so customers have an idea of the sort of issues they might encounter – and many customers will grumble about issues that are out of your hands. However, by responding to them with due care and consideration, other potential customers will see how you handle complaints and see that you offer great service.
You’ll be able to do the same thing with any comments on your social media channels, and although there will be some customers that are complaining unnecessarily, if you can show that you handle their concerns with dignity and care, that will reassure potential customers who have found you there.
Use quality product information
When you’re selling, your product information needs to be absolutely spot on, with all the relevant details – but there’s a delicate balance to be found between not saying enough, and being over the top with your descriptions. Like we say with most things, do your research on how your competitors write their product information, and establish a house style if you can.
On top of that, it should go without saying that you need to spellcheck, and grammar check your product information carefully. It is well worth reading every listing through even if you are using information directly from the supplier or manufacturer, since there is no guarantees that they haven’t let a mistake slip through, even if they are a household name company!
Show that you understand your customer
When you’re communicating with, and marketing to your customers, they need to know that you understand them – so, go about referencing the type of problems they have that your products solve. That might be as simple as making them look great, or feel good, but by spelling out exactly how the products that your company sells meets their needs, will encourage them to buy from you.
That doesn’t stop with your listings. Content marketing is just as valuable, and although it may take some time to start showing results, for most companies it is well worth creating blog posts, video content, and even podcasts (depending on your target customer) to demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field. By using your content to answer the questions, and problems that your customers have in this way, they’re more likely to trust you and buy from you.
Make the journey to purchase clear and simple
If you regularly do (and there aren’t many people that don’t these days!) think about why you shop on Amazon or eBay. For most of us, it is because we’re used to the interface, there’s a huge range, and our personal and card details are there, ready to use, allowing us to complete our purchase very quickly. Even if you’ve built the same ease of use, if customers have to sign up for an account with you, that’s a lot of time for them to think how it would be easier to just buy where they are already signed up for… And then you’ve racked up yet another abandoned cart.
To avoid losing customers at the last moment, implement one-click checkouts where at all possible, and allow customers to purchase using payment gateways that they already know and trust. If you want to continue to capitalise on your marketplace customers, look at implementing Amazon Pay, or another digital wallet solution.
There are more than 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, with 19% of working age adults that are disabled – that is 4.4 million disabled people in work. People with disabilities want to be able to buy online in the same way everyone does, so if you don’t want to miss out on sales then you need to be following web usability guidelines, and that’s not to mention that it is a legal requirement under the terms of the Equality Act 2010.
Most of the popular website builders like BigCommerce and Shopify will meet a lot of these without you needing to do much else, but it is well worth using a testing tool to see exactly how compliant with guidelines your website is. This shouldn’t take the place of testing with disabled users, and you can use open source screen readers to test how well your website performs for blind and visually impaired users, and will flag up if you’ve missed any alt text for images and so on.
Usability doesn’t just cover screen readers, of course, there are plenty of other disabilities that you’ll need to consider. Visually, think about dyslexia and colour blindness, and whether you need to change the contrast of text, the font, and so on, while for customers with hearing impairments, it is good practice to put captions on any videos.
You may also need to think about the language you’re using. Over-complicated language doesn’t always make you sound smarter, it can sometimes deter customers from buying from you if they consider that you’re trying to scam them. That’s especially the case when you’re selling more technical items, so be certain to use plain English – include the technical specifications alongside a clear, simply worded description.
If you’re thinking this doesn’t apply to you, the main thing to remember is that working in an inclusive way means that you’re maximising potential sales for all customers – so don’t discount it.
Be clear when there’s a potential hiccup or delay
When you’re building your website, new pages, and new functionality, things don’t always go smoothly – so give your customers the heads up, so they know that you’re working on those pages. By telling them that you’re making changes, if a page doesn’t load, or they get an error, then they won’t assume there’s a problem with your website on the whole and that you’re not to be trusted.
Similarly, if your service is going to be impacted – such as over holiday periods – then be clear about that on your website and social media too. You’re managing your customer expectations, which means they are much less likely to be disappointed, and complain to you, or on your social media and other public channels where those comments could harm the chances of other customers buying from you.
With both of these thoughts, don’t forget to make it clear how to contact you if there’s an issue – and the same goes for any other type of issues that you might be encountering in your business. Life is rarely easy, but being up front about issues means that your customers will trust you more.
Showcase your expertise
As we’ve already mentioned, content marketing is a great way to show your customers that you really do know what you’re talking about, and that your products really do solve the pain points in their lives. But content marketing is a completely different way of marketing to selling a product, so make sure you know the difference, and use it alongside your other marketing efforts effectively.
In addition to your content marketing, look at how you can showcase your expertise in a much quicker, and more real way by using short social media videos. Because you can create these videos using your phone, you can spend less time editing and making them look slick, and your customers get to see the ‘real’ side of your business – meaning further opportunities to create trust.
Take your time
Just as you won’t instantly trust everybody you meet, so your customers won’t instantly trust your brand either – no matter how many steps you take. While you’re working on getting as many of these pointers in place, know that it will take time for customers to trust your store, and so you can continue to build your business with less expectation and pressure.
When customers start to buy from you, you will need to continue to keep delivering – otherwise everything you have done will be for nothing. Which brings us to our final point…
Consistency will be key
As you probably already know – and we’ve already mentioned, there’s a lot to be said for consistent branding and values. Keep your branding consistent wherever your customers find you. That means using the same colour schemes, logos, and wording across social media, your website, and your business listings – whether that is Google, Instagram, TikTok or elsewhere.
But it isn’t just your branding that you need to be consistent with. Keeping your service tight, sending email updates to your customers when their orders are dispatched, and following up with them after their purchase means they are much more likely to continue to believe in your company. Once you’ve converted a customer to a long-term repeat customer, they’re more likely to advocate for your brand, telling family and friends about you – and we probably don’t need to tell you the value of great word of mouth.
Building trust with your customers isn’t an easy task, but being thoughtful about your business practices, and following the guidance we’ve put together here will start you off on the right foot. Remember, keeping this going will be the key to your success, since trust is very, very easy to lose – so don’t let things slip. Stay ahead by using automation where you can, and use the tools that are available to you, such as your Avasam account, use our listing tools to keep your website listings up to date, and to continue sourcing and selling successfully.