7 proven ways to build customer trust

Posted by Kayla Matthews on 27 Mar, 2020
View comments Marketing
Customer trust is at the heart of every business and key to success.

Customer trust.

High levels of customer trust have multiple benefits. They can increase sales, make people more likely to recommend companies to their friends and more. Although businesses cannot build this trust overnight, they can do certain things to boost client loyalty and brand trust proactively.

Here are seven of the best ways to do this:

1. Anonymize customer data

Data anonymization removes personal details from information, making it almost impossible for someone to connect the material with a particular individual. The importance of this came into sharp focus when The New York Times discovered how location data could reveal a shocking amount of detail about a person’s activity, for example where they worked or how long they stayed at a doctor's surgery.

A 2019 study from Trūata found that 60% of customers felt nervous about companies using their data for analytics purposes. On a positive note, 55% of people born after 1979 would be more open to sharing their information with brands if those parties promised total anonymity.

Take that approach when possible, and confirm to customers that you do so by posting data collection and usage policies on your website. Ensure the information is in user-friendly language that people understand.

2. Go above and beyond to reduce bad customer experiences

Customers are more than likely to lose trust in a business after a bad experience. They will have high expectations of what your brand can and should provide. If you don't meet these expectations, they will go elsewhere.

So, when considering how to build trust with customers, you should keep in mind that it's an all-encompassing effort, spanning into every part of the interaction. It'simportant to do everything you can to reduce the likelihood of any negative encounters.

Consider that a poll from Jeanne Bliss and Oracle indicated that 43% of people had blacklisted an enterprise after bad experiences with them. Moreover, 34% decided they would cease doing business with them after only one negative occurrence.

Start by choosing a few things to focus on when building customer relations, both offline or online. For example, make sure you have clear refund policies, and systems in place to ensure queries are dealt with in a timely way.

Ask for feedback and encourage suggestions on how your company could continue to improve. When customers know you care, they may be more willing to show forgiveness if you miss the mark.

3. Show customers you're willing to do the right thing

A growing number of customers expect businesses to act ethically and do the right thing when they operate. Brand trust increases when people feel confident that companies are doing what they can to make the world better, not worse. According to data from the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of respondents said they "must be able to trust the brand to do what is right".

Actions in this area will take different forms for different companies, depending on their business. If you want to build brand loyalty, select the aspects that make the most sense for your business and goals and that you can uphold. Then, make sure your efforts are not cosmetic but genuine, and make sure also that your customers know about it and can trust you’re doing the right thing.

Once you decide which areas to highlight, incorporate them into your branding, and do it consistently across all platforms. For example, sandwich chain Pret a Manger, has very clear information on their website about their food waste policies and actions to support local charities.

Pret food waste policy.

This approach solidifies your ethical stance in customers' minds and helps create trust.

4. Maintain good cybersecurity practices

Cybersecurity is another area where you can build trust with customers. Many people love the convenience and efficiency of shopping online. They aren't so thrilled with it if an e-commerce company puts their data at risk, however.

The results of a survey from Ping Identity found that 63% of people believe a company is always responsible for safeguarding their information. Additionally, 81% of those surveyed said they would no longer do business with a company that had a data breach.

Data protection happens in several ways, but one of the primary options is to beef up cybersecurity. Besides tweaking things on the user end, companies should consider adopting the zero-trust identity model for their own workforce. It means the system verifies an employee's right to access data before fulfilling the request.

Trust is never assumed, verification is required for every access request.

One of the reasons why the zero trust approach is so appealing to businesses is that statistics show a successful breached login goes undetected for an average of 200 days. That gives hackers plenty of time to do damage to a company. The zero trust model means that gaining someone's login information does not guarantee an unauthorized party enjoys the freedom to wreak havoc.

Customers should also be confident of your cybersecurity measures. For example, creating a secure way for people to enter or confirm their payment details is crucial.

Many users now know to check for site security by looking for the https: part of a website address or the padlock by the website url.

Show customers that you have measures in place to protect their data so they can confidently make purchases and transactions on your site.  

5. Add images to your Google My Business profile

A Google My Business (GMB) profile allows you to provide people with accurate information about your business, such as its hours and location.

A BrightLocal study analyzed 45,000 GMB profiles across 36 industries. It indicated that enterprises receive significantly more interactions from customers when they have more images on their Google My Business profile.

More specifically, having more pictures on a GMB profile showed a correlation with a direct increase in website visits, calls to a business, and people requesting location directions.

Google itself says:

“Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”

That may because photos give people an idea of what to expect. Business owners should add images to their profiles that give users accurate impressions and encourage them to visit or otherwise interact with the company.

Adding images is an excellent way to encourage initial trust, as people like to see where they’re going, or who they’re dealing with. Make sure your service then matches their initial confidence, and be careful to keep your images updated and relevant.

6. Be transparent about the data you collect and the content you distribute

Collecting data is an unavoidable practice for people who run a business. However, you should be upfront about why you gather it and what you’ll do with it. Think about whether the information you want helps you run the company without harming customers and don’t ask for further unnecessary details.

Research from Deloitte revealed that 35% of people don’t like companies collecting data about their browsing history. However, 75% don’t mind if companies know the reason why they purchased a product.

In addition to being honest with customers about why you collect data and how it leads to better outcomes for them, give them straightforward ways to opt out of different types of content you may send. Lush is very clear on its newsletter signup that they will not share your data with third parties.

Lush signup.

Also, let them choose how you get in touch. Doing those things can help build customer loyalty because it gives people more control over how you handle their information.

7. Increase brand trust through a clear checkout process

Buying something online requires a customer to place a significant amount of trust in your company. They need to be confident that you'll handle their sensitive details with care. Moreover, shoppers don't want to feel that your company is pushing them into a process that causes unease.

A survey from the Baymard Institute found that numerous factors can make a person abandon a purchase. The top five reasons were:

  1. The site required creating an account
  2. The checkout process was too long or complicated
  3. The site did not allow for seeing or calculating the total cost upfront
  4. The website had errors or crashed
  5. Customer did not trust the site with their credit card information

You can help customers feel confident during the checkout process by indicating the different stages a person must go through and allowing them to go back to the previous step if needed without canceling their purchase. Moreover, clarify the shipping costs as early as possible. People want to know the total cost of their purchase and don't appreciate only getting details about shipping charges at the end of the transaction.

Invest time to build loyalty, for meaningful results

Building customer trust is a vital part of your business and it will be time well spent. Cultivating loyalty requires an ongoing effort, but committing to do it will bring longstanding rewards.

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