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4 steps to enhancing customer trust in your brand

18th May 2017
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Consumers are increasingly aware and concerned about the reputation of the digital companies they are dealing with, especially when it comes to privacy. In a recent survey by market research specialist Vanson Bourne, 76 percent of respondents say they will cease transacting with companies with a high record of data breaches. Seventy-two percent of respondents say they will no longer share data or at least limit what they share with businesses because of the risk of security breaches.

This underscores the need to ensure a solid reputation for your products, services and brand, in terms of ensuring users that their information and data are in good hands.

There are a handful of ways to improve trust among customers, and any business with a digital presence should establish better trust with its customer base through all means possible. This includes engaging with users though their preferred channels, ensuring a high level of security and reliability, as well as leveraging users’ own content to the advantage of your brand.

Here are some of the leading ways you can enhance the trust factor with your customers:

Assure users their data is in good hands

Identity theft has become such a big concern that at least 70 percent of online consumers worry about falling victim to fraud, which might involve their financial data falling into the wrong hands. Because of this, users have already grown smart about their online usage and practices.

Along this line, Google has actually started a campaign that will encourage publishers, application developers, and e-commerce companies to enforce strong web security on their websites and services, particularly through SSL/TLS. Specifically, the search engine will start using SSL security as an additional factor in ranking for search results.

Enterprises have been incorporating such secure best practices into their infrastructure for some time now. However, for consumer-facing transactions, there are concerns that adding another layer of security could compromise speed and performance of end-users’ transactions. An SSL “handshake” after all introduces added latency and processing time, which can significantly slow down access speeds, resulting in a degraded user experience.

However, you can optimize the performance of SSL handshakes with infrastructure improvements. In the first place, you should already employ secure HTTP across all your transactions. Going beyond this, using a content delivery network with keep-alive, session resumption, and “false” SSL starts, can significantly reduce latency and improve the SSL certification grade level, regardless of the type of certificate used by your server infrastructure.

Ensure transparency and honesty

You might be tempted to sweep any potential issues about your products under the rug or keep mum about customer complaints. However, in the digital environment, honesty is the best policy. This is especially true in an environment wherein a disgruntled client, customer, or partner can easily spread bad press about you through social media.

Improving trust among customers will therefore mean that you have to address such issues directly and with candor. For example, if there are bad reviews about your brand and product, get to the bottom of the issue and fix it where necessary. Engage with disgruntled customers to determine whether there is any action you can undertake to resolve their issue. Of course, this also means you should defend your employees or products when you think a complaint is unfair and uncalled for. What is important is that you let people know you are dealing with such issues and not simply brushing them off.

Open lines of communication

Since we have already mentioned engaging and connecting with one’s audiences, opening communication channels is another good way to establish trust for your brand. This is particularly true in a business environment that is increasingly dominated by the millennial generation — in terms of numbers and spending capacity. According to a Forbes survey, 62 percent of millennial consumers are more likely to become loyal customers if a brand engages with them.

Such engagement can be done through various channels, such as social media or any platform of choice. What’s important is that you establish a community around your brand or product, and that you actively engage with your most important audiences. This means delivering relevant content, curating customer experiences, and responding to inquiries in a timely manner.

Use this opportunity to gain honest customer insights on your products or services, which can help in making improvements where necessary. Opening communication lines can also help you gain an edge over your competition, particularly by having a pulse on what the user wants — whether it pertains to your brand or that of a competitor’s

The average business is already familiar with social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but did you know you can also leverage less traditional platforms like Snap and Pinterest in engaging your audience? It’s a matter of finding out what clicks well with your audience.

Encourage UGC and criticism

User-generated content or UGC has grown to be one of the most impactful ways of engaging with customers and enhancing brand value. Such content can be in the form of reviews, features, or basically anything that engages audiences and discusses the brand in some form.

Now you might be worried that customers might write bad reviews about your brand or service, but fret not — negative reviews can actually increase the trust factor. According to a study published on HBR, the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio is somewhere in the range of 1:6, which means for every negative comment, there are six positive ones. The study also cited that 95 percent of customers will think that reviews are fake, artificial or company-screened if it is all positive.

Negative reviews also help keep you on your toes. Any valid complaint or criticism by legitimate customers can be used as a means to further improve your service. Having a healthy amount of criticism online means you are a genuine business and that you are not whitewashing any negative comments. What is important is how you deal with these.

Conclusion

In an increasingly-connected world, establishing trust with your customers will involve a lot of engagement and assurance that you have their best interests in mind. Take advantage of the tools and platforms available to you in ensuring you can reach out across channels and that you can provide the right balance between convenience and security.

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