Customer Experience News & Trends

Top reasons customers don’t trust you

The numbers say it all: 84% of consumers say companies have to prove they’re trustworthy. In other words, nobody’s doing business with you – much less staying loyal to you – until you’ve gained their trust.

That data comes from a recent survey, The Trust Factor.

Most customers are skeptical when they go online, call or pull up to a company’s front doors when they’re first look for  information, answers or an actual product or service.

What makes it hard to gain customers trust: They have at their fingertips round-the-clock information on your competition, history, reputation, and user reviews and opinions — which can sway their trust in a heartbeat, researchers say.

Use every opportunity to build trust

What’s this all mean for you? Trust needs to be built with customers early and often and through every channel you use to communicate with them. From the advertising they see or hear to the shipping commitments your service or sales team makes, customer trust can and will be made or missed.

Sixty-percent of customers expect companies to bend over backwards to win and keep their business. They won’t just buy because they need the product or service you provide. They want to see a consistent effort on your part to gain their trust and keep them happy.

To build trust from the moment you put your company’s name out there, you want to make sure these six elements of customer trust are intact:

1. Transparency

From the get-go, customers need to understand the motives behind your approach to them. Are you giving them information with the intent to build a relationship? Do you want to sell something and move along? Are you most interested in helping them — which should be the goal most often?

Audiences were originally confused by when it first started advertising on television, specifically during major sporting events. Was Danica Patrick endorsing some new product she used? What was the service anyway? Some people were disappointed to find out it wasn’t sexy, race car-related or anything they needed for personal use.

Use your company’s mission statement as a guide in advertising, marketing promotions, sales pitches and service interactions.

2. Relevance

Customers find it hard to trust companies and employees who present them with products or services that don’t fit their needs. That situation creates a “you just want my money” feeling for customers.

Products and services need to target customers’ current needs and situations.

Michael Marx, VP of Market Intelligence at Visa, found that to be true after years of throwing every new product and service out in front of customers to see what stuck. When their industry took a hit, Visa took another approach: listen to more customer feedback and research internal data to find out which new products fit which customer needs.

Then their sales and customer service pros only introduced customers with certain profiles to products that fit their needs. It built stronger relationships, and increased customers’ commitment to the company by 17%.

3. Format

If any of your information or people are difficult to access, customers might begin to feel like your company’s hiding something from them. Examples: too much fine print, impossible-to-reach-people, phone trees, limited access to sales or service experts, difficulties finding contact information on websites, FAQ pages that don’t answer their questions.

Customers resent wasting time hunting for what they need — whether it’s online, over the phone or in a store.

Confusing information was turning off Avon customers. Customer service reps heard complaints from customers about not being able to find what they wanted in the company’s promotional materials, explained Tracy Wright, Director of North America Customer Care at Avon. So they took a list of direct customer complaints to Marketing and, more importantly, offered to help. They suggested changing some of the language in the materials, as well as different photos and photo placement. From then on, customer service pros took a look at catalogs and promotional materials before they went out to customers to head off confusion, Wright said.

4. Accuracy

Customers rely on a lot more than what a company says about its products, people and processes. Nowadays, they turn to online sources — reviews, social media comments, etc. — before they even contact a company.

That’s why it’s important to make sure the information your company puts out for customers to see is consistent, accurate and up-to-date across all lines and channels of communications. Websites, advertising and customer service and sales professionals — and anyone else who talks with customers — need to be in sync with the most up to date information at all times.

For instance, many companies’ marketing departments keep their customer service manager on their distribution list. That way, if they mistakenly fail to convey all the latest promotions and marketing material to the manager and reps who will take inquiries on it, they’ll still have the most accurate and current info in front of them.

5. Awareness

Name recognition works for Coke-Cola, Nike and McDonald’s. Most of the rest of the companies in the world need to do a little work to get customers to know and trust their companies.

One of most powerful ways is still old-fashioned word-of-mouth. People most trust their friends, colleagues and family who’ve experienced products, services and companies. Until new customers have had contact with a company, their network of friends, colleagues and family members are proxies for what they’d like to experience.

On the plus side, that makes word-of-mouth campaigns easier to establish these days. On the flip side, a negative word-of-mouth campaign is just as easy to get started. But every time sales and service pros have successful, pleasant interactions with customers, they can ask them to spread the word about their company. They can give customers the link to a comment space on the company website or an industry review blog. They can also remind those customers to tell their friends and families.

6. Relatability

Ever hear of the major corporations who leave an empty chair in their executive meetings? It’s meant to represent the customer, and they turn to it periodically when they’re making decisions to ponder what the customer would think of the issue at hand. Then they try to make the final decision based on what would please the customer. That’s relatability — looking at things through customers’ eyes and making decisions based on it.

Just like in any good friendship, when companies understand and respect what customers think, the basis for a long relationship is formed.

Build from here

The groundwork has been laid. Customer trust has been established through the six elements. Now, how can you build on it every day?

Try some of these research-driven, practitioner-proven tactics.

Work as partners

Nearly three-fourths of customers agree that the companies they trust the most are the ones that give them useful information, not just try to sell them something. That’s especially true for companies that do the bulk of their business online.

At MyCorporation, where about 60% of orders come in online, service reps make calls to customers after they receive the order. They confirm what it was customers wanted and give the customers details on what to expect next. That’s proven to build trust and loyalty in an industry known for one-time buying, says CEO Deborah Sweeney. Most customers stick around for more services because they now have a partner.

Support customers long after purchase

More than 60% of customers said the companies they trust the most are the ones that provide them with information and tools to continue to use the product they bought over the long haul. Guarantees and warranties often aren’t enough. Customers need companies that will go above and beyond in extenuating circumstances.

And it might pay off big time.

Ron Burley, now the CEO at Brushfire Consulting, once owned a small software company that promised around-the-clock tech support. He took some of those calls himself. One customer, Bob, called every few days for some time. His problems were usually user-error, but Burley and his staff took them seriously. Then suddenly the calls stopped, and they weren’t sure if Bob had given up or had finally figured it out.

Then another person called months later, saying his company bought the one where Bob worked. They wanted to standardize the software across 300 outlets and Bob highly recommended Burley’s company for its incredible support. It turned into a $4 million sale.

Recognize when you can do more

Customers’ needs change, and they aren’t always aware of it. So 83% of customers say they trust companies that work with them every step of the way or even ahead of them.

One company that tries to stay ahead of customers’ changing needs and build incredible trust is Consumer Cellular in Portland, OR. CEO John Marick and his customer service team wanted to help customers avoid additional charges they faced unbeknownst to them — especially since those invoices sparked a lot of calls and complaints to Customer Service.

Consumer Cellular’s service reps suggested some kind of alert be sent to customers just before they’d be charged, so they could decide if they wanted to stop the service they initiated.

Talk about trust: Customers became more committed when they realized the company was trying to save them money.

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