Gaining Customer Trust and Confidence

“In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the consumer. It must build trust and rapport. It must understand the customer’s needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits.” – Jay Levinson

Any business owner would know that setting up a business is a herculean task and equally challenging is building and sustaining it. It is a catch 22 situation – it is imperative to grow a business to increase profitability and to negate possible loss of customers, but the more a business grows, the challenges increase and sometime become insurmountable. The greatest challenges being that of gaining customer trust and confidence in a way that would keep them with the company and ensure that they remain profitable. It is no secret that customers prefer doing business with companies, they can trust and ones that show they care about the needs and expectations of customers.

It really is the onus of a company to begin the process of gaining customer trust and confidence – all customers enter into a ‘relationship’ with a company with certain apprehensions and fears, which can be allayed only through a proactive approach from the company to put the customers at ease. Customers of today want to interact with a business that is humane – one that is warm, personable, and understanding of their needs. The messages and communiqués a company sends out must reflect a personal touch – seem customized to the preferences of the customer reading them. The focus of the company must remain on the interests of their customers – existing and potential. Companies that think of their customers when sending out messages or creating products, are more likely to build an instant rapport and find it easier to gain customer trust and confidence. When a company can make every interaction as personal as a face-to-face one, it would cement its place as company that customers love and trust.

 

Every company needs to expand its business by selling and adding revenues. However, to gain customer trust and confidence it is vital that it avoids trying to sell inappropriate and inadequate solutions to customers. Whatever a company puts forth as an offering must be in the best interest of the customer – from a utility and price perspective. It is never acceptable to misrepresent the offerings or provide incomplete / false information about the features and benefits of the products or service. To gain customer trust and confidence, provide them with both the pros and cons of the offerings, give them maximum information, and allow them to make an informed decision on whether they would require the offering now or later. Another thing that companies must refrain from doing, is being pushy – ‘hounding’ customers in a bid to confuse them to make a decision in the company’s favour, does not go down well with customers.

The sure shot way of gaining customer trust and confidence is by standing for certain ideals and values, and ensuring that these are never compromised irrespective of the consequences for the company. If your company gives its word / makes a promise to customers, it must stand behind those promises resolutely and unfailingly. Companies that keep their word even at a cost to them, are highly sought not just by customers but also by the best talent, investors, vendors, and other stakeholders. Such companies would have formidable support even in times of duress – keeping them ahead of competitors irrespective of the market conditions. There is a popular saying in business – under promise and over deliver. Under no circumstance is it acceptable for a company to go back on its promises and it would be prudent to keep customer expectations at a reasonable level, and then surprise them by exceeding those expectations.

While it may seem like the easy way out, offering lavish gifts and bribes disguised as ‘incentives’, is never an ethical way of conducting business. There are only downsides in doing business this way. The opportunists will accept these ‘gifts’ and only do business when they can gain such incentives, while others will avoid a company that tries to gain their attention and business by such actions – doubting the company’s intentions and ability to remain honest in dealing with them. Another sure shot way to keep customer trust and confidence is by ensuring, that pricing, and quality of the company’s offerings remains consistent across all locations. Even the slightest discrepancy can sow seeds of doubt in the mind of the customer, which over time, can become overwhelming enough for customers to leave the company.

We have mentioned this point several times – customers know that mistakes and errors will happen, and are willing to forgive. What they will not forgive or forget is if a company refuses to take blame, makes excuses, and does not make swift amends to alleviate their problems. They would much rather work with a company that accepts responsibility and rises above the problems. Customers prefer to hear the truth – even if it is bad news. It is never a wise move for a company to try to cover up problems, since eventually customers will find out. The market is a ‘small’ place as far as bad news is concerned – things spread like forest fire and it would be tougher for a company to make amends or salvage the situation if they withhold the truth from their customers. It would be prudent instead to solicit the help and support of some long-standing and loyal customers in a crisis, such that the company is able to retain the trust and confidence of the largest portion of their customer base.

The business market has a number of players – some very reputed and long-standing companies that enjoy customer trust and confidence. For any company, then, it would be wise to speak respectfully about its competitors. Putting down other companies only serves to highlight a company’s shortcomings and inability to stand up against the other players. Trashing competitors makes a company appear weak, petty, and incompetent, which is a sure shot way to lose the respect of customers and all other ‘partners’. No company can exist in a vacuum and would need the support of other ‘fellow players’ in the market – it is best to share a cordial relationship with all, since making enemies in a constricted space could prove to be a self-defeating move.

When things go wrong, which they inevitably will, it is important that customers of the company have several easy and accessible avenues through which they can vent and complain. By making it easy for customers to complain, a company would be displaying confidence and ability to take action, and would, enhance its chances of gaining customer trust and confidence. In fact, a confident company would consistently and proactively solicit customer feedback, and use it to enhance its strengths and remove its shortcomings. By asking customers to analyse it, a company would be placing control and power in the hands of the customers, thereby making them feel important and valued. Gaining the trust and dependability of such customers would not be hard.

Gaining customer trust and confidence is the shortest yet most effective route for any company to increase profits, build a large customer base, cement market position, capture market share, and remain highly successful. Customers are willing to pay a premium for the offerings of companies they trust and would stand by the brands and business in all situations. Certainly, something a company should be proud of!

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