How to build and keep customer trust

Diem Do

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In business, trust is everything. As Michelle Nichols said in Businessweek, “When your customers trust you, you can charge higher prices than your competitors do, offer a different feature set than your customers are looking for, and require a longer wait for delivery—and customers will still buy from you. Customer trust is that powerful.”


Here’s how to gain and keep that trust:


Don’t exaggerate

No one will ever buy your product if you don’t market it. However, marketing too aggressively can set up your product for failure. Unless you’re already a major player with a loyal following (think Apple), too much bragging will raise people’s skepticism.


Even if your claims sound reasonable, you have to back them up, and make sure you’re meeting the most possible qualifications to make those claims. For example, claim that your new game supports Android, but fail to mention that it only works with only two little-known, outdated Android phones… and you’re going to lose customers.


Hit your niche

All hype and marketing aside, potential customers must have a valid reason to pick your product over the competition. If it’s not the best, then it should at least be the best in your price range. Or the one that can be most quickly manufactured and delivered. Or the only one with a particular, truly worthwhile feature.


Consider Dirtbag Clothing, Inc,, which carved out a niche in the very competitive clothing industry by marketing to skateboarders. The company logo, “Wear it ’til it stinks,” tells potential customers that it’s not Juicy Couture.


Proto Labs, on the other hand, uses 3D printing and other technologies to turn out prototype parts quickly for other companies. Right on their website, they’ll tell you how many days (one to 15) they will need to create a specific type of part.


Be punctual

If you’re shipping physical products, get them out on time. If you promised a delivery by next Thursday, do everything in your power to deliver it by Thursday. And if that doesn’t happen, make it right. Even if it wasn’t your fault. Few things anger customers more than a company who displaces blame and offers no solutions. A nice note with a bit of empathy, coupled with a coupon, can go a long way towards smoothing things over.


Fix your design flaws quickly

You know your design is brilliant; too bad most people hate it. That’s a fine attitude if you want to be a starving artist, but it’s a losing proposition for a company.


Consider Windows 8. Microsoft created a new user interface that almost everyone despised. The company insisted that it was an improvement. Users avoided Windows 8, and it took a year to get the modest improvement of Windows 8.1 out there.


Microsoft can afford such missteps. You can’t. If significant numbers of users object to something in your product, fix it and release it quickly, and acknowledge your mistake. A timely and sincere apology can do wonders to rebuild trust.


Help your customers

The transaction shouldn’t end as soon as the purchase is made. Nothing can turn a shopper against you like bad customer service or technical support. Leave someone on hold for an hour, promise them a fix that never arrives, or tell them that the warranty ended yesterday, and you’ve lost a customer.


You wouldn’t do any of those things to a friend. Why do it to a customer? You might want to check our list of five most common tech support nightmares to see what you want to avoid.


Your company depends on customers. More than anything else, you want them to feel that they can depend on you.

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