When I was a kid my father taught me that trust takes a lifetime to build, but can be destroyed in an instant. That was an important lesson that I never forgot. In the small town of Taylor, Louisiana where he grew up, business was routinely conducted on just a handshake and a gentleman’s agreement. In situations like that, where the people involved have known each other for years, trust doesn’t need to be created because it has already been established. For everyone else, a concerted effort to increase the trust factor in your business pays big dividends. Let’s look at three keys to boosting your sales by increasing the trust factor in your business.
Although this is important in any situation where you’re trying to reach an audience who doesn’t know a lot about you, this is especially critical for start-ups. Of course these keys for creating trust only work if you are indeed trustworthy and have a habit of always doing the right thing by your customers.
Consistency is a key to building trust because it demonstrates dependability. Fundamentally, your customers need to know that you and your business are dependable. Consider warranties and guarantees. They’re both great tools for lowering the customer’s perceived risk, thus making it easier for your prospective customer to make the purchase. However, for these tools to be effective, it is important that your business be seen as dependable.
Consistency, or the lack thereof, is demonstrated not just in the big things, but in the small things as well. It involves the different aspects of your customers’ experience with you, from the way your phones are answered to the quality and consistency of your products or services. One of the most unusual stories about lack of consistency that I’ve ever heard came from somebody who had gone to a new barbershop. The experience was incredible; he was warmly greeted and given a complementary glass of wine while he waited. After the haircut, his hair was washed, dried, and combed. He left amazed by the whole experience and looking forward to his next visit. His experience on his second trip was very different than the first. On the third trip, his experience was unlike what he received on either of his prior two visits. Although the haircut itself was good, the experience wasn’t consistent and the customer never returned.
Strive for consistency in all things related to your customers’ experience with you, and you’ll be demonstrating the kind of dependability that produces big deposits in your trust bank.
People tend to automatically trust recognized authorities. There are lots of ways to position yourself as an authority in your industry, thereby instantly boosting the trust factor of your business. Of course, if you have a PhD or have published a book, you’re automatically considered to be an authority. For everyone else, writing articles or public speaking can very quickly position you as a trusted authority in your industry. Activities like writing or speaking also offer the opportunity for further enhancing your position as an authority using the power of association.
Association is a great tool for building trust because it allows your credibility to be enhanced based on the reputation of someone else. This is one reason that celebrity endorsements are popular. If you’re actively writing articles or speaking, you may be called upon by journalists or reporters. Media mentions allow you to create a link between the strength and credibility of the media outlet and your business.
Joining and participating actively in trade associations is another great way to put the power of association to work for your business. Membership and participation in organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce may be well worth the effort.
Creating and building trust in your business, while not accomplished overnight, can be accomplished very quickly when you go about it deliberately and intentionally. Authority and association are shortcuts in the trust building process, but must be backed up by consistency of the customer experience. Remember, trust may take time to build, but it can be damaged in an instant. Cultivate it, and you’ll be richly rewarded.