Build your business with customer trust

Filed under: Management skills

There’s no doubt that customers are an SME’s biggest asset: not just acquiring them but retaining them. Then they can refer you on to others. Without your customers, you simply wouldn’t exist as a business: they control your success and can increase your visibility. In fact, 83% of customers* say they recommend companies they trust. So, it pays to build your customer relationships and give them a service or product they value. But how do you establish trust in the first place? Here are 5 ways your company can gain the trust it needs:


Make your business secure

If you have an online store, ensure it uses secure payment system such as Sage or PayPal.
Customers are more likely to feel confident and safe spending their money with you, if they can see a recognisable company processing its transactions; protecting them and you. And if the whole online process is easy, they are more likely to repeatedly spend money and come back for more.


Encourage online reviews

As an SME, you should sign up to as many social media accounts as you can, and encourage online feedback to give your business authenticity. Favourites are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram – they allow your customers to follow you and post their reviews. Which in turn allows you to build a profile and develop customer relationships – even if they aren’t all glowing at first. Because even negative feedback can have its place: it adds credibility and gives you a chance to communicate with your customers in a positive way. And as 68% of customers put trust in online reviews, the more you can get and more believable they are, the better.


Have a website that will impress

Your website is so important as it’s the online face of your business. So, it needs to look professional, user-friendly and be quick to load. You are probably up against a lot of competition for your customer’s business and 47% of online visitors expect a site to load within 2 seconds. If it takes too long, they will go elsewhere. Customers should know immediately what you do and what you stand for. Ensure you have content that people want to see and read – that includes product descriptions and contact details, and if you can, keep it updated with relevant information and maybe even a blog!


Create a great customer team

Building trust is a lot about giving great service. From the start, make sure you have a team that cares about what your customers have to say. Think about how you’d want to be treated if you were a customer. Good service should come naturally and be consistent, instead of being planned: as the more you plan for it, the less you’ll spend delivering it. Ensure your team know how to respond to any queries correctly, including negative ones.
Indeed, many SME’s complain about negative comments and customers sabotaging their marketing plans. But the solution is to provide a good service in the first place – and having the right team is key.


Build a loyalty programme

Trust is never going to develop overnight. It takes time for customers to appreciate you and value what you do, so be patient. Listen to your customers every step of the way, and remember that they are humans not numbers, so always provide a considerate service. This doesn’t mean they have to like everything about your business, they just have to trust you. And at the end of the day, happy customers are your best marketing tool.

* Concerto Marketing Group & Research Now survey

* IHG® Rewards Club not applicable to Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants; to be included at a future date.

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