We all need our customers to trust us. But trust must be earned – not bought – and the time and effort you spend showing your customers you can be trusted is one of the most valuable investments you can make.
Only 22 percent of the public rated business executives as having a “very high” or “high” level of honesty and ethical standards, according to a Gallup poll conducted in December 2013.
“The public is looking for authentic conversations with corporate America,” said former White House adviser Dan Bartlett in a speech at Northwestern University. “They can see through the false stuff. With blogs and social networking, everyone can know everything.”
Customers need to believe that your company has their best interests at heart, that you’re capable of following through on your promises and that you’re genuine.
Here are four things your company can do to earn the trust of your customers:
Tell the public who you are. Be genuine and transparent in telling your company’s story. Spend energy delivering what you say you’re going to instead of making empty promises. In essence, “walk the walk” instead of just talking.
Be knowledgeable in your subject area. Anyone can learn more about a topic within seconds from a simple Google search. Present your customers something they can’t find online. Offer analyses and services that are attributed solely to your deep knowledge about the industry.
Be available, especially when you make a mistake. People have a tendency to hide mistakes, so you need to make sure your company is as direct and open as possible. Customers just want to know what is going on; be upfront and explain what’s happened and how you’re working to fix it. Click here to read our blog post on correcting your company’s mistakes. If you wait too long to make a correction, the situation could easily get completely blown out of proportion.
Be consistent. Remember that earning the public’s trust is not a one-time deal. Trust is earned over a period of time; view every customer as another opportunity for you to prove yourself.
If you’re wondering whether the effort is worth it, think of it this way: Delivering on your promise is your business. If you don’t deliver, says Ben Milne, founder and CEO of e-commerce company Dwolla, “there’s no tagline that fixes it.”
Need more help? Have Axia Public Relationshelp your business become an industry visionary with InSight.
Lauren Budik is an Axia Public Relations blogger. She most recently worked as an editorial assistant for a group of community newspapers owned by the Baltimore Sun. She and her husband currently live in Finland, where she is a community liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, photography and playing with her Sheltie, Lily. Originally from Atlanta, Lauren is a University of Missouri graduate, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with an emphasis in print and digital news.
Photo credit: Thinkstockphotos.com
Topics: public relations