How to build trust in an unreliable industry

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Trust is vital if you want to build a loyal customer base and a positive reputation for your business. Building trust not only helps you retain your current customers, but attracts new customers to your business, making it essential for any entrepreneur who wants to go the distance.

Building trust isn’t as easy as it used to be, and customer satisfaction has been declining for years. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), 80% of companies have failed to increase customer satisfaction since 2010.

ACSI found that most customers naturally dislike certain industries. For example, cable companies, airlines, and health insurance providers are automatically viewed as less trustworthy by many consumers.

If your industry puts you at a disadvantage, you’ll have to work even harder to build customer trust and loyalty. Here are six strategies you can use to build trust in an unreliable industry:

Related: 5 Strategies for Getting Customers to Trust Your Brand

1. Embrace transparency

Embracing transparency is one of the best ways to build customer trust and loyalty. If you want to build trust, you should always be direct in your interactions with customers and avoid making false or misleading claims.

You should also communicate openly with your customers and share information about your company’s policies and rates. Talk about any potential risks your product poses early in the sales process, and disclose any relevant information about your company’s sourcing or manufacturing processes if it’s discussed.

Transparency also means being upfront about any issues that arise in your business. Most customers are willing to forgive you for a mistake, assuming your company takes responsibility and does what it can to correct the situation.

2. Follow through on your promises

If you want to build customer loyalty, you have to do what you say you’re going to do. Keeping your promises can look like maintaining a consistent brand image, providing reliable service, and being consistent in how you deliver products.

Always honor the guarantees your business offers and provide customers with any additional assistance they need. You should also strive to operate with integrity and engage in socially responsible business practices.

Finally, be aware of any issues that arise and be willing to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue. This may mean offering refunds to customers, allowing item exchanges, or making significant changes to products or services.

3. Encourage customer engagement

Communicating regularly with your customers is another way to build trust and create a sense of loyalty. For example, you can send a regular newsletter where you share information about your company. You can also make customers feel valued by creating a loyalty program, hosting events, or creating a social media community.

But communication is a two-way street, so you always want to address your customers’ complaints and concerns. If you’re in a notoriously unreliable industry, your company should consider having a dedicated customer service team available to resolve issues quickly.

Your business should be open to customer feedback and willing to make changes based on that feedback as well. Sending out surveys and asking your customers to give you online reviews is a great place to start.

If you receive negative feedback, be sure to respond promptly and in a professional manner. Customers know that occasionally things will go wrong — it’s how your business deals with it that makes the difference.

Related: 7 Ways to Build Consumer Trust Naturally

4. Use customer testimonials

Customer testimonials are a great way to build trust with potential customers. They provide social proof that your product or service is trustworthy and can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Customers will always believe in an unbiased review more than any influencer or corporate messaging strategy.

You can also ask customers to provide a video testimonial. Offering incentives, such as a discount or gift card, can help encourage current customers to join.

5. Invest in safety

One of the fastest ways to lose customer trust is to compromise their personal or financial information. Equifax, Target and Marriott were all involved in major data breaches that exposed millions of customer information.

Data breaches don’t just happen to big businesses – attacks on small businesses have increased in recent years. Small businesses tend to be less prepared for a data breach and typically lack cyber insurance to deal with one, making them a prime target for cyber actors.

You can invest in security by installing firewalls, anti-virus software, and other security tools to protect your network. You should also train employees on security best practices and how to identify and avoid potential threats.

Conduct regular security assessments and audits to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the effectiveness of your current security measures. You can also work with security experts and consultants to find ways to improve security in your business.

Related: 3 Tips to Build Trust and Drive Business Transformation

6. Communicate easily

There are many benefits to using automation in your business. For example, chatbots allow you to respond to customers after hours and can help your overall customer service strategy.

But as you know, nothing is more frustrating than trying to contact a business and not being able to get a real person on the phone, or contacting customer service and having to wait on hold for an hour first.

If a customer has a problem with your product or service and can’t get in touch with anyone, it sends a clear message that they don’t matter to your business. And, once customers feel they don’t matter, it’s almost impossible to repair the relationship.

That’s why you need to have an easily accessible customer support team. When you’re easy to contact and give customers the help they need, it shows that you care about them beyond the initial purchase.

Again, building trust isn’t easy, but by embracing transparency, keeping your promises, encouraging customer engagement, using customer testimonials, and investing in security, you can stand out as a trustworthy business even in an untrustworthy industry.

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