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Saturday, July 13, 2024

4 ways Lancashire businesses can build customer trust

The UK economy is expected to contract over the next 12 months, according to the IMF. This will put many businesses, including those in Lancashire, in a difficult position. 

While growing your customer base should always be a priority, in this more difficult economic environment, it can be a good idea to focus on retaining your existing customers – and even, if possible, encouraging them to buy your products and services more often. 

But, the key to retaining customers – and making them loyal advocates for your company and brand – is consumer trust. So, how do you build consumer trust? This article provides an overview of some of the top ways to build trust among customers. 

1. Build strong and highly personal relationships

Why do local businesses build better and deeper relationships with their customers? Because the company is usually run and operated by the same person, and not a faceless multinational corporation. Often the same person or same people will have been running the business for a very long time. 

This not only gives customers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the people working at the business, but have conversations, share gossip and personal news, and even tell the odd joke. These relationships will often be highly personal. 

How can bigger companies learn from this? Think about all the different ways to showcase the fact that you’re not just a faceless brand but, instead, a collection of hardworking and very unique people. This might mean featuring the stories of individual team members on your website to give your brand a face. 

Alternatively, it might mean encouraging your team members to show a bit of personal flair and personality when they are engaging with clients or customers. A number of companies have told their team members to “bring their whole self to work”, including their personal interests, life stories, and sense of humour. 

Encourage team members to share their personality with customers, and connect with them beyond just the commercial transaction. 

2. Boost the visibility of your leadership team

As we have discussed, too often companies try to hide behind their brand names and corporate image. Not only does this make it more difficult for customers to build relationships with companies, but it can make your business look like a bloodless, characterless, and bland organisation. 

One of the best ways to build trust with customers is to give your organisation a face. And, often, this needs to start from the top. People are naturally interested in the people who run companies, especially the big companies that we all buy from day in, day out. 

This is an opportunity for companies to set themselves apart from the rest of the field by building the profile of their leadership team. This can be an especially valuable exercise if these company leaders also become ambassadors for the values of the company, showcasing how the business thinks and acts. 

This is backed up by data too. In fact, recent research from thought leadership PR agency Profile found that nearly 70% of customers said that they would prefer to buy from businesses with recognised CEOs. 

3. It all starts with customer service

When it comes to building consumer trust, it all starts (and often ends) with customer service. Trust between businesses and customers is built on a series of unsaid promises. 

These promises might include that the company has the best interest of the customer in mind; that the company stands behind the quality of the products that it sells; or that if something goes wrong, the company will take the problem seriously and try to solve it. 

These promises are often tested when a customer contacts customer service. For example, a customer might bring back a product, saying that it doesn’t work, that it doesn’t do what they originally thought, or even that they simply realised that they didn’t actually want the product when they got it home. 

These are critical moments when a customer is assessing whether the company can be trusted to stand behind the unspoken promises that the company gave when they bought the product in the first place. Always try to resolve the issue quickly, efficiently, and with a smile – the customer will reward you with loyalty and trust. 

4. Own up to mistakes and embrace transparency

In business, things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes accidents happen, whether it’s ordering the wrong item, mistakenly selling a product that is broken, or even experiencing an anxiety-inducing data leak. 

In these types of situation, it can be easy to put your head in the sand, batten down the hatches, and try to hide from the problem. Even worse, it can be easy in this situation to point the finger of blame in a different direction: a supplier, a rogue employee, or even the customer themselves. 

Don’t do it. Although it might help in the immediate term, when the customer eventually sees the full picture, they will see that you fudged the truth, didn’t own up to your mistakes, and cannot be trusted in the future. 

Usually customers are actually very forgiving of mistakes if a company explains clearly what happened, says sorry with sincerity and honesty, and explains how they are going to fix the problem going forward. 

So, if you have made a mistake, get on the front foot. Own it, and communicate clearly. Don’t get trapped into vague words – but, instead, be upfront, transparent, and fully honest. 

As we go into 2023, the battle for customers will become much more intense. This raises the stakes for you and your business. Building deep relationships with your customers built on trust will put you at a significant advantage. 

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