Do you trust people you’ve never met before? Some of us give everyone the benefit of the doubt – until they let us down. Others don’t trust anyone until they prove themselves. As a business owner, it doesn’t matter what camp you fall in to – like it or not – you need to have a strategy for gaining trust, because competition is fiercer than ever and the power lies firmly with consumers.
How Consumers Shop Now
A huge 97 per cent of people use the internet to look for products and services they want. When everything looks equal and it’s hard to tell one business apart from another – then trust plays a big part in the final choice. Whether it’s choosing a restaurant, a plumber or a new car – consumers have more choice than ever before and if you don’t work hard to gain their trust – they’ll go to a competitor who does.
These days it’s ridiculously easy to check out people and companies. You can visit their website and any number of directory and review sites (like Truelocal, Trip Advisor or WOMO) or look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to see what others are saying. According to 2014 research conducted by Bright Local:
• 9 out of 10 Australian consumers consult online reviews to help with their decision on whether to use a local business or not
• 72 per cent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
What people want to know before they contact or visit your business is:
1. Are you truly capable of giving them what they want?
2. Can they trust you?
Most websites address question one quite well. There’s lots of information about what the company provides. Very few address question two properly, and that is the key to generating more enquiries and sales. You need to reduce or eliminate your customers risk by gaining their trust. Here are three ways to build trust online:
Use Testimonials and Reviews
You can talk till the cows come home about how great your business is and how fantastic you are, but it won’t have the impact of reviews on 3rd party sites or genuine testimonials with photos and full names. People are looking for social proof that you do what you say.
Show your personality
Putting a face to the business can encourage trust online. People will do business with people they like, with people they feel they know. Include an About Us page on your site, complete with photographs and perhaps a video of you and your staff.
Provide a guarantee
Your guarantee needs to have substance – not a wishy washy Satisfaction Guaranteed symbol. Guarantee the things that concern people the most. One of our clients, a Sydney electrician, guarantees four things:
1. Arrive within 10 minutes of confirmed time or take $100 off the bill
2. A fixed price guarantee
3. Quality workmanship guarantee – any issues fixed for free
4. Cleanliness guarantee
Building trust reduces customer risk and helps make their decision making process a lot easier. If you genuinely deliver outstanding service over and over again – your happy customers will often spread the word. They will help you to attract new customers and make the process of gaining trust so much easier. Trust must be earned, and when it is – it goes viral.
In fact we believe it is so important we’ve created the Commonsense Marketing Ultimate Trust System for small businesses. It provides all the tools, marketing assets and training that business owners need to gain the trust of people who’ve never met them before.
Annette Welsford is the CEO of Commonsense Marketing, where she mentors small business owners to help them think differently, create helpful and effective marketing and build a tribe of loyal customers and advocates.