Trust. It’s tough to earn but easy to lose – especially in business.
Never has that become more true. Every time a bank changes its fee structure or a cable company bundles its services and makes it less than simple to understand, a cry rings out across social media. Someone will be complaining.
Like it or not, customers have higher expectations of the businesses they deal with these days. A 2012 global study from the Edelman Trust Barometer found that of the 11,000 people in 8 countries polled, 90% claimed that they want companies to be as transparent as possible. The reason: there’s more information that’s easier to access than ever before.
If you’re a company that’s being less than honest or simply appear to be, chances are good that the word will get out. All you have to do is read a few nasty Yelp reviews. True or false, they affect people’s perceptions and sometimes the bottom line.
Take care of your home base
Because transparency has become all but inevitable, building and keeping the trust of customers is vital. One of the best places to do that is a website.
Unlike profiles on any of the social networks, a self hosted website doesn’t live on rented land. You and your business control who sees the messaging and what that messaging will be.
How to build trust on your website
You don’t have to go to elaborate ends to develop a website that gives visitors a reason to trust using it and ultimately your business. You just need to start with an honest approach and implement good copy and design practices.
Here are just a few to get you started:
1) Storytelling with boundaries
According to Brené Brown, the acclaimed researcher in social work, “vulnerability without boundaries leads to disconnection, distrust and disengagement.” How many times have you met someone who seemed great until he decided to hit the “Too much information” button while crying in his soup?
Developing an engaging storyline on a website, i.e. details about who works at the company, how it came into being, the values behind it, help visitors and customers better understand who they are dealing with while giving them a sense of belonging.
The challenge is being evocative without turning your audience off. Think tone. Is the tone of your copy in keeping with who your business serves along with your own values? It won’t be the same for every business. Take into account what your customers say about your business.
2) Respect customer confidentiality and give them a sense of security
When people feel safe, they’re more at ease. Giving people a sense of security while on your website is a sure way of keeping them motivated to stay.
Several different A/B tests of pages on websites in which security icons were added or verbiage to let people know that their email addresses would not be shared, increased conversion rates at checkouts and list sign ups.
A UK retailer of watches increased sales of one of its Seiko watches by 107% just by replacing it’s price guarantee with an authenticity badge. Clearly, customers had more anxiety about purchasing an imitation watch than paying more than necessary.
3) Only over promise if you can over deliver
It’s tempting to tell your customers you’ll provide next day delivery or respond to requests for information within the hour. By all means, if you can follow through, make those promises.
Giving people additional reasons to believe in your business or product can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.
Zappos has built its business on first rate customer service. And, it’s not afraid to tell it’s customers on the top of its website. The thing about Zappos is that if something goes wrong, it’s prepared to make it right (even if the customer is the one to blame.) They’ve got the infrastructure and the culture to back up their claims.
The result: customers who trust buying from them will continue to do so loyally.
4) Add real testimonials
Testimonials are extremely effective in providing social proof on a website. Few people like to be the first one to try something. Think about every time you go to a party with a buffet table. It’s not until the host pushes someone over to be the first to fill his plate that others will follow.
Not surprisingly, websites work in a similar way. Adding testimonials shows new visitors that your business is trustworthy.
Here’s the thing. Only add them if they are real, relevant and you can attach a name to them. Bidsketch, the proposal software company, does a good job of highlighting testimonials on their home page that give us a sense of why people are happy with their product. Plus, there are names of real people with links to where you can find them online.
Testimonials from “Anonymous” or “Suzie Q.” are less than inspiring in giving people a reason to believe that “real” people have engaged in business with you.
Think about embedding tweets from others directly on your site. They include a picture and are clickable. They provide a quick and easy way of adding testimonials to a site.
What types of things have you done on your website to add that trust factor?