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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

10 Ways To Build Trust In A Digital World

Cartoon representing a lead magnet

All eyes are online these days, but one thing you mustn’t lose sight of is the trust factor. Here’s how to keep customer confidence high in an ever changing marketplace…

The tricky thing about trust is it takes a lot of time to gain it, and a nanosecond to lose it. But it’s one of those non-negotiables for a successful business. Build a solid foundation of trust with your customers and you’ll have the kind of long-term loyalty normally seen at a Rolling Stones concert. Do business on a shakier footing, however, and you’ll be left with a client base sinking faster than an X Factor contestant who can’t hold a note.

But how do you foster long-lasting trust in a digital era – one where competition is fierce, speed is of the essence and the risk of a Facebook fallout is high? The obvious answer is sticking to your promises – giving customers what you said you would. But more than that, it’s about the experience you give them on your digital channels. Provide them with one that’s smooth, secure and seamless, with no hidden surprises, and you’ll have them clicking back for more…

1. Give them great, up-to-date content

Businesses have long subscribed to the idea that content is king, filling their online platforms with compelling brand stories, engaging video content and entertaining blog posts. And these days, going the extra mile has pretty much become the norm. North Face, for example, has an app that points customers not just to their shops but to great trails, hikes and bike routes. Meanwhile, watch titan, Rolex, has focussed on winning photography, which it serves up daily to its 11 million Insta followers. But there’s a need for precision when it comes to content that wins trust. Out-of-date or incorrect information and broken links are a major no-no, as are bad spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you can’t get the bread-and-butter stuff right, what does it say about your product or service?

2. Give them a seamless brand personality.

Imagine if the Queen started channelling Kat from EastEnders in her annual Christmas broadcast, or your best friend suddenly began talking like Boris Johnson. Unsettling, at best. At worst, it could send you running for the hills. Same is true of your brand personality. If your tone of voice is warm and friendly throughout, but you suddenly adopt a cold, formal delivery when you’re responding to a bad rating or processing a transaction, it’ll confuse the life out of your customers and derail the trust process completely. The same is true of your other brand assets, like your colour scheme and image style – consistency is key to long-term loyalty. People feel at their most comfortable when they know exactly who they’re dealing with.

3. Give them a great user experience.

Interacting with your company online needs to be a pleasure not a chore, part of which means making light work of browsing and buying. After all, there’s a reason Amazon has become a force of nature. It’s ridiculously easy to do business with them. A couple of clicks gets you to the item you want, a long list of reviews tells you if it’s any good, and then a one-click purchase system makes it dangerously easy to spend money. Okay so this kind of transactional gold dust just isn’t possible for every business, but the easier you make interacting, the better for everyone. Even simple things like waiting for a page to load can give people a bad experience and the urge to click elsewhere. It goes without saying you need to give plenty of thought to the mobile experience, too, given that around half of web traffic worldwide is done through a phone or tablet.

4. Give them proof you’re a great company.

Look for ways to show people what you’re made of. Display case studies or testimonials on your site. Highlight any awards or accreditations. Talk about any causes you support or work you’ve done in the community. Put your people in the spotlight and let customers really get to know the faces behind your brand. Spread the word far and wide, too. Positive brand mentions on a range of sites and social channels will boost familiarity, respect and trust in equal measure.

5. Give them a platform for feedback.

Around 92% of people use reviews to guide their decision-making process, so the power of positive, word-of-mouth recommendations is endless. Encourage customers to leave ratings and reviews on your website and social channels. If you get a bad one, don’t be tempted to remove it – acknowledge it publicly then carry on the conversation in private. Transparency is vital if you’re to win trust, and showing customers you care when things go wrong can only strengthen your brand.

6. Give them security.

In this digital age it’s essential you protect customer data and let them know you’re doing it. Make sure you have crystal clear privacy policies and terms of service, so there’s no room for confusion. And if you’re taking transactions, ensure you’re adhering to PCI compliance guidelines, so people can buy from you with total confidence.

7. Give them somewhere to go when they need help.

Things can go pear-shaped for any company, but it’s how you handle those sticky moments that can turn a good brand into a great one. So don’t fall at the first hurdle by hiding your Contact Us info. Nothing will exacerbate a problem like not being able to get hold of someone when things have gone awry. Some companies go all out with 24/7 contact centres and live chat help, but even if you just make it really easy for someone to find your contact email or phone number and tell them when to expect a response, you’ll stand a much better chance of keeping a customer’s trust.

8. Give them follow-up emails that are relevant.

No-one likes an in-box bursting at the seams with spam, and, generally speaking, people’s patience for follow-up marketing is wearing thin. If you’re planning to send emails – or, and this is only for the seriously brave, text messages – they need to be highly relevant or personalised. Even then, make sure any of your mailings have an unsubscribe feature. The last thing you want is your brand becoming a thorn in their side.

9. Give them a chance to say no.

Some customers love to hear about a new product or your next flash sale. Others don’t. So if you’re planning to contact them, or share their data with a third party, it’s essential you get their permission first. Giving people the choice is crucial to winning their trust.

10. Give them honesty.

People like to have their expectations set. Be upfront about how you’re going to do business with them – what they’re getting, when they’re getting it, and how they’re getting it. Lastly, explain what happens if they’re not completely happy with the outcome. Clear, honest information strengthens trust, sets expectations, and gives people total belief in your brand. All the ingredients for a long-lasting relationship.

Want to work together? Get in touch today.

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An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

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