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How to Build Customer Trust in Your Business

How to Build Customer Trust in Your Business

Consumers have choices about how, where, and from whom to obtain goods and services. Small businesses compete with huge, online operations for customers. Businesses that gain their customers’ trust can hold their own. Here are some ways to build customer trust in your business.

Keep Your Word

Promises are critical in personal and business relationships. Businesses that do what they say they will do when they say they will do it, gain customer confidence and trust. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and keep the promises you make. If unforeseen circumstances make it impossible to deliver goods when expected or to keep an appointment for services, businesses that proactively contact customers with a choice of alternatives and a good “Plan B” will fare better than those that can’t say when they’ll get around to meeting their customers’ needs.

Invest in a Good CRM

Customer Relationship Management databases—CRMs, for short—help business owners keep track of their customers’ preferences, send appointment reminders, and even deliver birthday greetings. Consumers expect businesses to be able to personalize communication and know their purchase history. They know that businesses should be able to keep a record of complaints and of how the business resolved their issues. At the same time, businesses must provide assurances about privacy. Customers will abandon businesses that don’t give them confidence that their personal information is secure.

Obtain “Social Proof”

People tend to feel more confident about their choices if they see others choosing the same products and services from the same businesses. Maintaining a robust website, with information that goes well beyond hours and location, is critical to building trust. Along with information about your business’s history and details about products and services, include testimonials and reviews. Don’t be fearful about poor reviews—instead, respond to them professionally with an apology for disappointment and information about what you did to make it up to the customer.
Another important type of “social proof” is accreditation by a relevant, authoritative body. Small businesses that meet identified criteria can obtain accreditation by the Better Business Bureau. Professionals and manufacturers can earn certification or accreditation by independent organizations that confirm that their processes or products conform to international standards. For example, eyeglass makers can demonstrate that they produce lenses in facilities that meet or exceed recognized standards. These independent assessments and marks of quality are important to consumers and give them confidence that the business takes quality seriously.

Give Back Visibly

Small businesses become local heroes by stepping up to support community organizations and events. Know your community well enough to recognize a natural avenue for your business to contribute. Youth sports, local healthcare organizations, senior centers, disability organizations, or animal welfare concerns might be good candidates.
Participate in local events such as art fairs, sidewalk sales, parades, and fundraisers for first responders or family support agencies. Customers should be able to recognize a natural connection between your products or services and the causes your business supports, whether it is because an organization needs your business’s products or because it can benefit from your firm’s professional skills. Ensure the help is to benefit the external organization and is not purely self-serving. Customers appreciate authenticity. Customers trust a business that fills a recognizable need in an authentic way.

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