Bringing your product to market and starting to sell isn’t all there is to business. When you find your target market, you don’t only want to sell to them, you also want to build their trust in your brand so that they shop with you again, and spread positive messages about your brand to other potential customers. Much of the success of any business comes down to trust. The trust your customers have in you, your product and the way you do business.
Increasingly, consumers are expressing a lack of trust in brands. After years of corporate crisis, of price increases, of concerns over the welfare of employees and the environment, consumers have high expectations. Add into that the stresses of a global pandemic, supply chain issues and the small matter of Brexit and you have a perfect storm of customer fragility. Which brands should we trust and how can we know if we’re investing in the right products?
A lack of trust in your brand can be costly, both to your bottom line and to the future growth of your business so what is it that you can do to ensure you gain and vitally, retain the trust of your customers?
This seems obvious but you’d be surprised at how many brands do not start with honesty at the forefront of their business plan. Applying an honestly check across the board means you’ll be laying strong foundations of trust with you customers now and going forward. Think of every stage of your business and go from there. Be open about your products. Where do they come from? How are they made? What materials are involved? What manufacturing process do they rely on? Be clear about your team, don’t try and overinflated the size of your business, if you are a one man band, let people know. Be transparent about how you handle your customer information, don’t use purchased data, build a strong base of real customer information and handle it respectfully. Lastly, it goes without saying, don’t ignore problems, if you receive a complaint or of something goes wrong, tell your customers about it. Honestly and clarity is the best policy.
When it comes to customer service, always do more. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and work through what it is they expect from you. When you’ve established that, try and offer more. Be responsive to enquires and complaints, communicate openly about the information they may need or want and pre-empt any problems that might arise before then come up. The more you do for your customers, the more trust and loyalty you’ll be building with them.
Many brands offer a product or service and focus primarily on how to sell that to customers. The most successful companies approach their business from the perspective of solving problems. Establishing what problems your target audience experience and finding a way to remedy them not only makes you invaluable to your customers, but it also establishes you as a company who understands your customers and wants to make their lives easier. Continuing to listen to your customers and evolve your offering will build more loyalty as time goes on. In the end by solving a problem for your customers, you’ll not only be creating a product that they want, but also that they need.
The age of automation is not new and while much positive progress has come as a result, there is one issue that stands in the way of a trusting relationship with customers. Removing the human element from communication and customer service can have a seriously negative impact on consumer confidence. While it may save your company time and achieve efficiencies in other way, it can be damaging in the long run. Offering human contact is a direct way to remedy this. Make sure someone is answering the phone, have someone respond to emails within a certain time frame, and make sure that social media and all platforms for your brand are managed by people, not by apps or efficiency tools. Knowing that someone is engaging directly with a customer comment on Instagram or responding personally to a complaint on Twitter instills a faith that cannot be achieved through an auto response.
We all rely on reviews and recommendations whether we’re shopping online or chatting to a friend about which local restaurant to choose, so it’s important as a brand to pay just as much attention to what people are saying about you. If you receive a negative piece of feedback, don’t just ignore it. Take it seriously. Consider the merit. Is there something you can do in response? Edits you can make to your service or product? And if customers reaches out to compliment what you’re doing, take that just as seriously. Share your positive reviews, encourage engagement from your users and show that you take all feedback on board. The experiences of your customers are invaluable to your brand whether they help to shape the next iteration of your product offering, or whether they can help you to improve in an area of weakness.
The relationship between brand and customer is crucial to the success of any business. And once broken, trust is a very difficult thing to earn back so taking time from the outset to invest in strong trust building relationships and honest, open communication with the stakeholders of your brand is time well spent. The ripple effect of having a loyal customer base is invaluable to any business, large or small.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.