When it comes to developing revenue for your company, you could join the race to the lowest price…but do you really win if you have little to no profit margin? Customers are motivated by a few factors. Certainly, some are looking for the best price on a product, but others will be loyal to a brand that provides stellar customer service. Still others are looking to build a long-lasting relationship with a brand like yours, and that relationship begins with trust.
Why Does Trust Matter in Selling?
As humans, we’re all looking for an emotional connection. That includes the connection to brands. Think about brands you remember from childhood: maybe your father had Folgers coffee percolating every morning as he made you bear-shaped pancakes. Or perhaps you’d save your allowance to buy a Kit Kat bar every week, and you always looked forward to it.
These memories evoke emotions, don’t they? You feel good about these brands because they play into your past history. You trust these brands.
A trustworthy brand proves itself to be reliable, consistent, and engaging. When a customer trusts your brand, she believes that if she buys another of the same products, it will be the same quality as the last one. She is secure in knowing that, if she has a problem with a product, she can contact customer service (in a reasonable amount of time) and get a replacement or a refund. She feels like she matters to your brand.
This is trust. It’s not difficult to build trust, but it does require your brand to step away from focusing on revenue and instead focus on the individual customer.
Here’s how to make trust a top priority for your brand.
- Customize Your Marketing Message
Most brands treat a customer like a number, not an individual. When a customer feels like you’re sending her the same emails as a million other people, she becomes disengaged with your brand.
It’s not difficult to segment your email list based on shopper behavior or preferences. Just keep information on each customer in your CRM platform so that you can, for example, send a promotion to anyone who has purchased a raincoat from your online store with a discount on an umbrella. Because these purchases are related to one another and relevant to this customer type, you zero in on the people most likely to respond to this particular offer.
- Be an Individual, Not an Institution
People respond to humans, not companies. When you hide behind the walls of your corporation, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to let customers trust you more. Your company is made up of dozens or even hundreds of unique personalities, so why not let them be your brand advocates to foster that trust?
Let the person or people who manage your social media accounts sign their names when they post an update to personalize it and give people a point of contact. The same goes for customer service emails or chats.
- See Things from The Customer’s Perspective
Yes, your brand has goals and milestones to hit, and ironically, that tends to make you a bit myopic when it comes to actually achieving them. Instead, if you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you can better determine how you can fill a need for her and boost revenue as a result.
Let’s say you sell marketing consultation services and you’re looking to take on more clients next year. You’re focused on doing more of the same as you’ve been doing, but if you stopped to listen to your clients, you’d see there was opportunity to increase the services you offer to existing clients, perhaps in an area you haven’t previously focused on. So maybe instead of just offering content marketing, you could also offer SEO services.
You wouldn’t have to go out and find new business, and your existing clients would trust you even more because they will start to rely on you for all things marketing.
- Get Off the Script
The customer service industry has become more streamlined due to scripts and highly-refined processes, but unfortunately, this has taken the soul out of the industry. How valued does a customer who calls your helpline feel when the rep spouts off his spiel, versus another who takes the time to sincerely ask how the customer’s day is going?
All it takes to build trust is sincerity. If the customer is frazzled, it takes very little effort to put some emotion into an apology. A little light banter can loosen up an angry customer and even change her attitude by the end of the call.
- Don’t Focus on Selling, Focus on Problem-Solving
Even if your end goal is to sell more, shift your attitude away from it and focus on problem-solving. What issues do your customers have? How can you provide a solution?
This requires careful listening. You can do that by having conversations with your customers, if that’s an option, paying attention to your demographic on social media, or even sending a survey to your customers to find out what their pain points are.
- Apologize When You Goof Up
People make mistakes and so do brands. Rather than trying to cover yours up, own them. You’ll appear more vulnerable to customers, who will immediately forgive you. You don’t have to be perfect to garner trust from your customers; you just have to be genuine.
- Ask How You Can Do Better
A lot of stock is put into marketing software that tells brands what their customers’ sentiment is, what sites they’re clicking on, and what their reactions to marketing campaigns are, and while these are useful tools, you really need direct interaction with your customers to know how you can improve to better serve them.
Customers may be taken aback if you ask the question: what could we do better? Few brands bother to actually ask it, instead relying on technology to predict what they think customers will want. But your customers could be your best source of inspiration.
You might find that, for example, your ecommerce customers want a loyalty program so they can be rewarded for continuing to buy from your brand. Or that your marketing clients want DIY learning products so they can teach themselves some of the easier functions of marketing. This isn’t input you’d gather from analytics; it requires talking to your customers to understand their vision of what would make your brand even more amazing.
Remember: trust is earned, not taken. You can spend millions on ad campaigns and get traffic — and even sales — but those one-offs are not the same as repeat business from customers who trust you. You will need to continually work on that trust, just like you would in a personal relationship.
Just continue to consistently provide quality products and customer service and be honest, and you should have no problem creating that trust. Also, monitor that trust to ensure you’re living up to your own standards. Even a tool as simple as Net Promoter Score can help you keep the pulse of your customers’ opinions of your brand. If your score slips, determine what the cause is and remedy it immediately.
Christine Soeun Choi is a digital marketing associate at Fit Small Business. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. Outside of work, Christine enjoys taking photos, exploring artwork, and traveling.