The customer and the purchase decision – in some cases it can be very straight-forward, in other cases, a little more complex.
When it comes to a product, a customer generally needs less information about the product itself and the brand when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to buy.
When it comes to a service offering the decision-making process generally takes longer and involves more effort from a brand awareness and relationship building perspective. This is especially the case when the business owner is very involved in the creation and delivery of that service.
Before the customer says “yes” to a service offering they need some level of familiarity with the business owner and the brand before they commit.
The brand needs to gain the customer’s trust before the customer is comfortable enough to go ahead.
Gaining the customer’s trust is not something that can be done immediately. For a services business building trust is a long game, but once you have built rapport and trust with a potential customer they are likely to be more engaged in what you have to offer than they would with a product-focused business.
So how do you build trust?
Here are 7 things to consider when you commit to building trust with your audience of potential customers.
Empathy. Being empathetic comes easily to some more than others. But regardless of whether empathy is part of your nature it’s important to make an effort to understand the customer’s individual experience of your product or service offering. What is the customer journey like for them? Where are they getting stuck? What are their hesitations, if any, that slow down the decision-making process prior to purchase? Do they need additional support after purchase? Having empathy for the customer will show them you care beyond the transaction.
Educate. It’s important to educate your audience not only on your specific offering (e.g. your yoga classes) but on the overall category (e.g. the practice of yoga). Educating the customer on topics related to your offering by creating content that informs showcases your knowledge and expertise in the area which in turn builds trust.
Visibility. People are more hesitant or wary of that which is unseen. Think of anyone you deal with online where there is no photo or little information on who they are. The more visible you are and the more open you are the more people feel they can trust you. Although visibility is important, you need to ensure you’re being visible in a way that feels comfortable to you.
Engage. Be responsive through your online channels and platforms. The point of social media channels is to engage with your audience. It is not a one way communication channel. Although it’s important to have boundaries on what level of engagement you can commit to on social media, check that those boundaries are not too restrictive. If your aim is to create a space where only you are to have your say people won’t stick around for long.
Authenticity. These days consumers are expecting more and more transparency and honesty from businesses. Does that mean you must reveal everything about yourself through your business’s social media feed? No. Not revealing all doesn’t make you inauthentic, but ensure what you do put out there is genuine. People generally respond more positively to authenticity and imperfection rather than a perfectly curated facade. So relax a little and avoid people-pleasing. It’s easier to gain someone’s trust if they see more of the authentic you.
Problem solving. Help your community members solve problems now. Don’t wait for them to become a client. I’m not talking about doing a whole lot of unpaid work. Identify common problems your ideal customer segment or segments deal with and offer solutions to those problems.
Testimonials. Customers trust testimonials that come from others over what a brand says about itself. Let others say great things about your work through testimonials, particularly if you’re not a fan of talking about how great you are. If it’s a challenge to get testimonials due to the nature of what you do, talk about the different ways you’ve helped past clients, even if it means keeping the client’s identity anonymous.
When it comes to your business which of the above areas do you need to put more focus on? What can you start doing today to help build trust with your audience?