In the days when customers came to your store to buy products, building trust and credibility for your business was a relatively easy process facilitated by face-to-face interactions. You hired likable, friendly employees who spent time working to help customers, even getting to know them as people, and credibility followed naturally. In today’s digital world, however, building trust isn’t so easy in a world devoid of real people. And all of the scammers out there trying to steal the hard-earned money made by real peoples make it that much harder to build credibility for your online business.
Image courtesy of Enterprisers Project
Without trust and credibility, your business is doomed to failure. Customers won’t visit your website, they won’t buy from you, and they won’t recommend you if they don’t trust you and see you as a credible business that is doing everything you can to protect their personal information and financial security. How can you build trust and credibility with customers when you don’t have the luxury of meeting them face to face? That’s a very good question and one we want to help you with today. Read on to learn more about how you can use relatively simple tactics to build trust and credibility for your business.
Building trust and credibility for your business
Trust is a critical component of commerce. Consumers are more likely to buy from businesses they trust and communities are more likely to support these businesses, as well. Yet, a recent study found trust declining.
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed the largest-ever drop in trust amongst four cornerstone global institutions: business, government, NGOs and the media. In the 28 countries surveyed, trust in all four institutions combined fell below 50%. CEOs suffered the biggest dip in credibility, falling to only 37% globally. These numbers should be concerning to all institutions. But for business this radical drop in trust must be addressed if companies are going to continue to operate successful and sustainable companies. [source]
Integrity is the linchpin that connects trust and credibility. Companies with integrity inspire trust in the communities and customers that are important to them while integrity makes a company more credible. In a recent study by Accenture Strategy, researchers found that the cost when consumers lose trust in global companies amounted to $2.5 trillion per year, $756 billion in the US alone.
This begs the question of how to build trust and credibility for your business. Here are 6 suggestions.
Build a safe, professional website
Your website is your online store, a welcome mat, and the first impression consumers have of your business. It’s crucial that you ensure your website looks professional, provides assurances that you protect personal privacy, and evokes trust and credibility through transparency and consistency.
To that end, when you build a website, choose to invest in reliable hosting solutions that are secure and purchase an SSL certificate that hardens your site from outsiders by providing encryption of personal information (BTW, an SSL also improves your SEO). You might also want to check out this site, which lists cybersecurity options to fit the budget of small businesses.
Beyond that, a professional website designer provides the polish your website needs to look great to visitors. Appearances are crucial, especially in the online world, and a website that looks like it was built by a newbie isn’t going to cut it. Your website needs a clean design, free of mistakes like spelling or grammar errors and that contains appropriately-sized images that aren’t pixelated.
Set your business up the right way
Set your business up in a professional way as well. Though not necessarily true of all businesses, certain industries place more importance on professionalism and reliability, such as B2B businesses. For these types of businesses, and really any business, you want to project the air of being an established and committed business.
As such, when you form your business, consider business formation options. For instance, start an LLC instead of a sole proprietorship. Aside from protecting you from the financial and legal repercussions of running your business to some degree, forming a business corporation also shows your commitment to running a professionally structured organization.
Put your name on it
Just as building trust and credibility is easier in the physical world, be present in your online world as well. On your “About Us” page or your “Meet the Team” page, show images and offer a brief bio of yourself and all your team members. If your brand primarily appeals to end consumers, consider having a little fun with this page by including pictures of pets, giving team members funny nicknames, or sharing fun facts like which Star Wars character they identify with most.
Turning your team into flesh and blood people establishes a sense of trust since visitors can identify with you and your team. As your team starts to grow, it’s a good idea to include them on the website, too.
Emulate trustworthiness and credibility for your business
Always being worthy of your customers’ trust. Being honest and transparent in all your interactions makes customers feel like they can trust your business. One misstep can sink the entire operation. And, in today’s world where negative word-of-mouth moves at the speed of sound, any hint of dishonesty will soon reach all corners of your world.
Take this notion of trustworthiness to the final point. Offer only the best products and services available on the market for a reasonable price and keep any promises you made, whether explicit or implicit. If products don’t meet the high standards of your customers, offer lenient return policies and excellent customer service to address any problems that arise.
Show reviews and testimonials
Nothing engenders trust and credibility in your business like a review from a trusted source or even real customers you served satisfactorily. Prominently display reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers who use your business. If you sell products on your website, provide opportunities for customers to rate the products. These ratings are so important that companies like Amazon spend a significant amount of money and time filtering out false reviews to provide confidence among their buyers.
Show some badges
Are there organizations responsible for licensing, regulating, or otherwise maintaining the standards of work in your industry? Just as showing testimonials and reviews show approval from your customers, displaying badges and logos from business customers you served shows they approve of you, as well. If customers or clients commonly expect to see these trust badges because they see them on websites owned by your competition, then it looks at least a little suspicious if there are none at all on your own. It might take some time to earn these badges, but the time spent will pay off in the end.
Once established, you must work to maintain trust and credibility for your business. If your standards start to slip or if you make major mistakes, you may find that trust and credibility dry up. Thus, use caution in your advertising and promotions to ensure you can keep the promises you make then keep those promises.