Trust is a two-way street. Whether serving customers or being the customer, trust is the cornerstone of every relationship and, quite possibly, the strongest marketing tool for a small business. A Better Business Bureau survey found 84 percent of consumers trust small businesses the most.
As a store owner, you can develop long-term clientele who, once they know they can rely on you, will even be willing to pay more for your product or service. Yes! It’s that powerful.
You also need to be able to trust the vendors you work with – to know they have your back, not just your pocketbook.
Here’s four tips for building trust with customers (that also apply to vendors).
1. Say what? Walk the talk or customers will walk away.
Your product or service must be exactly what you say it is. Avoid hype. Shoot straight. Let your customers know exactly what your product or service does well, what it doesn’t do well, how it can help, how it can’t. Be honest and forthcoming, and follow-thru when you tell customers you will do something. They will be more impressed by your genuineness than any empty promises.
If this advice sounds familiar, it should. It’s exactly what we expect from equipment and service providers. Transparency, no surprises, delivering on what’s been promised…and getting what was expected. When it gets down to it, trust is built on action, not words.
2. What if? Create a safe place to shop.
Consumers don’t want to regret shopping with you. They want to feel secure that their payment and shipping information is protected. You create this by incorporating trust seals, keeping your checkout process simple, and not spamming them with unwanted advertising. Once customers see the experience is easy and safe, they’ll be more likely to sign up for newsletters, follow you on social media, and create online accounts.
Likewise, you want to feel confident you’re making smart and safe investments in technologies with vendors who understand and can help grow your business. One-size-fits-all solutions sel-dom live up to the promise.
3. Are you listening to me? Value the customer’s voice.
Show customers you hear them. Don’t be so preoccupied with selling that you miss what brought them into your store in the first place. They’ll notice whether you’re more concerned about them than yourself, and they’ll reward you for it.
Another way to demonstrate you’re listening is to post customer-generated reviews of your product or service. According to BrightLocal’s annual Local Customer Review Survey, 88 per-cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Provide cus-tomers links to review sites and offer them incentives to share their experience with your brand.
Unfortunately, it’s all too commonplace to get sales calls from vendors that don’t understand your business needs, don’t bother to ask, or don’t listen to what you tell them. Those are red flags.
4. Was it something I said? Relationships last beyond a sale.
To grow your business, you need customers to buy from you again and again, and increase their average spend. Truth be told, it’s the relationship that keeps customers coming back. You create loyalty with service after the sale. When customers sense you care about them, they re-ciprocate.
It’s no different with vendors. Here today, gone tomorrow isn’t something you want. You need vendors that stand behind their solutions, who are available 24/7, 365 days a year to address issues and questions. It helps if they’re located in your community rather than another state, time zone, or reachable only by email within 24-48 hours.
It may be cliché, but treating others the way you want to be treated is the best path to creating trust -- the most powerful currency in business.