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Companies are always looking for ways to bring in new customers with clever marketing campaigns and shiny new products. However, too few of them try to establish a basis of trust from the get-go instead of diving straight into advertising strategies. Building trust with their audience is essential for companies hoping for long-term success.
Not only will a company culture of trust factor into your customer acquisition and retention performance, it will also set your business apart from the rest. Companies that aren’t putting their time and effort into establishing relationships with their customers will slowly lose out to the ones that do. If you want to belong to the latter category, as you should, here’s what you have to do:
Be Available to Help
You can probably think of a situation where a company you wanted to work with was difficult to contact, causing you to take your business elsewhere. You don’t want your target audience to go through the same ordeal. How available you make yourself to your customers and target audience will increase—or diminish— the trust they have in you.
During normal business hours, calls and emails should be answered promptly. But being available doesn’t require staffing a 24/7 call center just so reps can provide generic replies to common questions. There are more efficient—and frankly easier—ways to be available to consumers. Chatbots, social media messaging apps and even virtual meetings can all be means of reaching every consumer in a way that is most comfortable for them.
Some of these tools, such as an online chatbot built into your website, can even generate automatic responses. This tactic will cater to the needs of late-night internet browsers who are hoping to get a question answered long after dark. It’s better to be able to give them answers yourself than to chance the answers that come through search engine results.
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Provide Easily Accessible Resources
As well as making yourself available to anyone in need of assistance or information, make any resources you have readily accessible. This includes blog posts, online guides, and videos.
These are great tools your target audience can access whenever they want, even outside of your business hours. Don’t just have these resources on your website—make them easy to find. Posting links to these resources on your social channels or curating them in an email newsletter will encourage audience members to check them out.
Also be sure to keep your resources up-to-date. Outdated resources won’t be of much help to those seeking information and can even damage the trust a consumer was starting to build with your brand. If your resources don’t need any freshening, add a line stating when the information was last reviewed so customers will know that it’s current.
Maintain the Connection
Once someone has done business with you, stay connected with them. This will show every customer that you care about them beyond the transaction.
If a customer at your auto parts store opts for an email receipt, follow up with a message asking how their air filter installation went. If a couple hires you to do the flowers for their wedding, send a note to thank them for their business and offer further wishes for their happiness. Good follow-up procedures will improve your retention rates and yield a happier customer base.
Try to be as personal as possible when following up with customers. For a small business, this tends to be easier. Local faces will start to pop in frequently and become well recognized. These individuals will be easier to connect with on a personal level to establish trust between them and your business.
Larger companies may help hundreds or even thousands of customers in a single day. How can you hope to maintain connections with customers on that large of a scale? Lean on a CRM system to provide customized messaging that goes beyond the mail merge emails of the 1980s. Everything from past product purchases to previous topics of conversation with sales reps can be referenced to establish a more personal connection.
Know What’s Trending
Knowing what’s trending in the world will help you build trust with your audience by saying and doing the right things. If your brand seems out of touch, it’ll be more difficult to trust and connect with.
While you want to be part of the cultural conversation, though, make sure the topics and issues you address aren’t counterproductive to what your business is doing for your target audience. If you’re a maker of oil drilling equipment, for example, chances are a PR campaign about the dangers of climate change will fall flat. You could, however, tout your oil spill prevention and cleanup efforts to demonstrate your commitment to the environment.
When it comes to business, the conventional wisdom has always held that it’s best to steer away from controversial topics like politics and current events. However, taking a stand on the issues of the day can help you build trust with your audience. Consumers are increasingly values-driven, and they regard companies that don’t speak plainly as untrustworthy. Knowing that your brand shares their beliefs on diversity, say, or reducing single-use plastic will increase their confidence in your brand.
Building trust with your audience is similar to building trust with anyone else, whether it be a new acquaintance or your future in-laws. Start out slowly, but be consistent with what you do to establish a foundation of trust. Always be looking for ways you can strengthen that trust and avoid anything that might weaken it.