Back in the 1970s and 1980s most organisations built their brands around power. Consumers were sucked in, and now people are complaining about how products and services were mis-sold. Having been burnt previously, the most important question that consumers want answering is ‘can I trust you’?
A Changing Landscape
One thing that has changed is the ability to access information about different products and services. The internet has made this process for consumers easier, with the abundance of websites, and now social media platforms.
Acquiring a new customer, generally, is much more expensive than retaining an existing one. So, how can you start to build trust between your business and a potential customer? The first thing to think about is; what process do your potential customers go through before making a purchase? There are certain aspects that you need to look at, and getting hold of the relevant data, to establish this process. Always look at your existing customers before making a decision on whether to conduct any wider market research.
Generally, most consumers will try and use a number of different sources to establish trust. For example, if I was buying a new laptop I would potentially look at the following:
– Seller websites (for price comparisons).
– Forums (to establish good brands).
– Company websites (for offers and post-sale support available).
– Social Media (recommendations or brands to avoid).
– Technology websites (for reviews).
Not all products and services, as well as not all consumers, will follow this process. The point here is to be visible across a number of different platforms. However, it’s not enough just to be visible; you must be able to entwine trust in to the content that’s available to consumers.
There is only so much control a business can have on these platforms. Again, if I use my previous example of buying a laptop, this is what an organisation could do:
– Partner with sellers: Creating a partnership between a company and third party sellers to enhance a positive profile. This gives a company an element of control over content.
– Be active on Forums: Being proactive and answering questions on forums, helps establish a trusted connection between a company and potential consumer.
– Relevant information, recommendations and content on a company website: This is probably the most important platform businesses can use to build trust.
– Engage where potential customers are: Most people have a social media account, and they will use this to evaluate any recommended brands or brands to avoid. Create a trusted page or profile where potential customers can visit and engage with you.
– All you need is a good product: In this example, laptops and other technology products, are reviewed and evaluated by third parties. A company has very little control over this process, so it’s important that a product can sell itself.
By the Numbers
Facebook: 1 billion users; Youtube: 800 million users; Twitter: 500 million total users; LinkedIn: 200 million users. Click here for more detailed statistics.
Make it so…
Engagement is where you can build trust. Every customer is different, that’s why it’s important that you get to understand your customers first and foremost before you set out your marketing plans.
The battle to gain a customer’s trust needn’t be a difficult one, however you need to look at it as a long term objective.
“It takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it”. –Unknown
Retention of Customers
An organisation can’t stop once the customer is through the preverbal doors. The platforms maybe slightly different but it’s important that any good work is continued.
Each business is different, and has varying platforms available to use. Social media, customer accounts and emails are just some of the platforms that can be used to engage with existing customers.
We live in a world where attracting new customers, via different promotions and offers. So, it’s important that a business gives existing customers something that just isn’t available to new customers. Again, the key to success here is engagement and ensuring that existing customers feel valued.
Communication channels have changed, but this allows greater opportunity. Think of retention as building a relationship with existing customers. Relationships work both ways. As a business it’s important to strike the right balance; if an existing customer gives a business something, give the customer something back.
This engagement and appreciation of existing customers instils trust.
It’s these happy existing customers that will help drive potential new customers through your doors, through recommendations and engagements with others.