Earning the trust of your customers is paramount when you’re running a business. It may not seem like a priority; you’ve got your product and your marketing and your finances to work on first and foremost! However, don’t underestimate how important it is to earn trust of your customers and everyone else your company works with, because a lack of trust means, quite simply, that your days are numbered. As the great motivational speaker and business guru Zig Ziglar was quoted as saying, “If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
This all begs the question, then: how can you, as a business owner, build trust? How can you go beyond being liked and work toward being trusted? Here are eight ways for businesses to earn trust.
- Engage with your customers.
This one is easier than ever thanks to social media, where everyday people and the businesses they like are more or less on the same level. If you can have a regular dialogue with followers and do it with a diplomatic and friendly tone, you’re likely to convey a sense of trustworthiness.
- Treat customers as you’d like to be treated.
Trust is sort of like a boomerang — you have to throw it out there in order to get some back. If you can extend trust to your customers and treat them with the utmost fairness, in most cases, they’ll respond in kind.
- Be honest.
“If you tell the truth,” Mark Twain once wrote, “you don’t have to remember anything.” Dishonesty has a funny way of compounding; you forget the particulars of your cover story, and the inconsistencies eventually do you in. Be honest with your customers about everything: about meeting deadlines, about time and product availability, about quality, and about anything and everything else. Dishonestly, and the process of dancing around it, can destroy trust and limit your opportunities to build it back up.
- Be accountable.
If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. Stay true to your word, and you’ll become known as a business that customers can trust.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
More than just engaging with customers, be diligent about addressing their concerns, answering their questions, and making any perceived wrongs into rights. If you can be the company that listens to its customers and keeps them satisfied, you’ll earn their trust.
- Manage your online reputation.
Pay attention to what people are saying about you on social networks and review sites. If a good review comes in, highlight it; if a negative one pops up, pay attention to the criticism. While a lone slam can sometimes be the result of a misunderstanding or a customer with unreasonable expectations, repeated complaints about the same thing are a good indication that it’s time for you to change how you do things. Let these customers know that you’re working on the problem, and invite them to give your company another try.
- Take care of your bills.
Aside from the obvious reasons to pay your bills and keep your financial house in order, a good business credit rating makes you look trustworthy from the standpoint of potential business partners and creditors.
- Go above and beyond.
If you’re working hard to build trust, it’s not enough to meet expectations — you’ve got to do just a little bit better. Going above and beyond what customers are looking for can help to earn trust and promote great word of mouth advertising, potentially bringing in new customers who already have a good base level of trust for you and your company.