Trust is one of the most challenging things to earn and the easiest to break. When you’re first starting to build your brand, gaining the trust of your prospective new clients and keeping the trust of your current clients is life or death for your business.
When you add the extra dimension of building trust online, with a person you’ve never actually met or spoken with, establishing trust can be even more difficult. So what are some of the best ways to go about building trust? You might think it’s just a matter of having integrity, but there is a lot more to the complex relationship of trust than simply being honest. In fact, honesty is something your clients implicitly expect, so you’ll have to go beyond that basic building block.
Here are 10 ways you can gain more trust with your clients online.
1. Be straightforward.
Nothing is more irritating than liking a product, going through the process of checkout and then finding some fine print that somehow significantly adds to the cost, puts you into a membership or subscription or in some other way isn’t transparent.
Be really clear with your prospective clients what you do, what you’re offering, how it works and what your cancelation or return policies are. All this information should be easy to find and navigate to and shouldn’t catch a first-time client by surprise. Those nasty surprises will the quickest way to lose credibility.
2. Fix problems immediately.
If a client has a problem with your product or service -- fix it without delay. You don’t have to be perfect in business to be successful, but you do have to be honest and responsive.
Ordering or purchasing a product or service online can be scary the first time. If someone purchases from you and then has a problem, but can’t find a way to reach you or doesn’t get a response -- that is a trust breaker.
I recently read about a startup that offers a way to track social mentions and shares of your business. I won’t name any names here, but I was really excited about the prospect. I immediately went to the company's site and struggled to find any contact info. I was reviewing the pricing section, trying to answer my own question, when a chat box popped up and asked to help. Awesome! I submitted my question. And waited. And waited.
After about 10 minutes I left the site. I never did get a response on the chat feature, which asked for email and in which I left my contact info, so why bother to have it there? I followed up with a tweet and contact-form submission and after four days gave up. After six days I got an email response from the company … sorry. My trust was long gone at that point.
3. Try video.
A great way to give your customers a reason to trust you and get to know you without actually being in front of them is to record video. Instead of just recording a welcome video, answer common questions or in some way frame up your expertise to help your potential website visitors and viewers. This gives you a chance to showcase your knowledge and personality while giving online visitors an opportunity to “meet” you.
4. Host webinars or teleconferences.
This is an even better solution for building trust than static video alone. By hosting a free monthly webinar packed with great content, you’ll be able to speak to your visitors while presenting your topic and after for some live Q&A. Don’t worry about the cost. Webinar sites such as JoinMe are free and teleconference call lines such as FreeConferenceCall.com offer small party-free conference lines.
5. Personalize emails.
A personalized-email drip campaign is a great way to nurture your relationships with potential and current clients. By offering services such as the free webinar, you will be able to access email-address lists of attendees. Don’t spam them, but if you build up a really resourceful guide to send or share that’s personalized to the topic of the webinar, there’s a great chance you can build trust by providing value.
Again, be cautious you don’t spam anyone on your list, but a well-directed, personalized offer can help build a relationship with clients.
6. Add testimonials.
People want to know that other people have worked with you. Of course, everyone understands you aren’t going to post bad reviews on your own site, but if well known or respected people in your community and industry are vouching for you, that goes a long way to add credibility to you and your business.
7. Post credentials.
Utilize any credentials you have to help boost trust. Are you a member of any local community organizations? Do you belong to any professional organizations? Does your business require or recommend you be licensed, bonded or insured? All those credentials help assure a potential client that you’re regulated, vetted and can be trusted.
8. Provide case studies.
Don’t just rely on testimonials, for successful campaigns you’ve created with clients in the past, ask to turn their stories into case studies. If you post even one great case study on your site, you’ll be able to walk potential clients through the process of how you helped someone else succeed. That’s great insight into your business approach, what it’s like to work with you, the kind of innovative solutions you provide and it will help color a full picture for your site visitors.
9. Get a rating.
Business-rating systems help to establish your credibility by proving you’ve been measured and tested by high standards. Think of the whole premise for Yelp’s rating program, Michelin’s four stars or others such as the Better Business Bureau. Getting involved with the various rating groups relevant to your industry will help to boost trust with your organization.
10. Get published.
It’s said you can’t believe everything you read in print, but the truth is that the majority of people will trust someone they read in the paper, speaking on the news or in some other way demonstrating accolades. Getting yourself into the press doesn’t have to mean pitching yourself. You can always pitch the media on a great topic or story that can provide tremendous value to its audience and to your business.
Don’t just look for ways to be in the press, look for ways to contribute content to the press to be published or produced. It’s a great boost for building trust online.