Gaining Customer Trust – Easier Said than Done

“It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.” H. L. Mencken

Gaining customer trust might not be one of the easiest things to do in the world of business. There are several reasons for why it is tough, but businesses that focus on gaining customer trust and building sound relationships with them, have been known to achieve greater success and growth. While great products, skills, experience and knowledge are essential, a company can expect sustainable success only by building trust with its customers, which can be done in a variety of ways. Gaining customer trust is vital since customers will not buy from anyone they do not trust. This is apparent in the manner that sales pitches, sales communications and other sales related communiqués from random companies are shown distrust and apprehension. However, in gaining customer trust, a company can expect a customer for life. Of course, it takes a lot of time, effort and hard work to build this trust, but the benefits are numerous. Companies must also remember that while it is tough to build trust, a single instance of negativity could break that trust in a matter of seconds. Whoever said: “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair” – hit the nail on the head, both from a business and everyday life standpoint. What does your company do in order to gain the trust of its customers? Have you been successful?

The customer must be able to perceive that your company understands them – their needs, the challenges they face, the solutions required to tailor fit those requirements – basically to understand every aspect of their business and personal life and make things easy for them. A company must be able to display that they are in control and know exactly how to help the customers and show care in everything they do for the customer. In personal life, too, we know that someone who makes our life easy and understands us well would be someone whom we learn to trust and depend on. However, in showing customers that your company cares and understands them, it would be essential to remember that the customers of today are smart and astute people who have access to a lot of information and know exactly what they want and how to get it. Therefore, essential to gaining customer trust is the fact that a company must never hide facts or tell half-truths to customers. Never overemphasize the benefits of your company and its offerings and if your company promises something at the selling stage, ensure that the promises be fulfilled without fail. Customers are smart – they will ultimately see through any lies and dishonesty and re-building the relationship would be near impossible.

The beginning of the relationship is the most crucial part in gaining customer trust. If the person interacting with the customer at this stage seems completely focused only on making a sale, the chances of customers trusting this person would be lower. On the other hand, if the company’s representative focuses on the customer and displays an understanding of their problems and possible solutions, the customer would be more amenable to listening and accepting the suggestions of the representative. It is imperative to gain as much information about the customer as possible, such that your company can put together customized solutions that would make in easier in gaining customer trust and for a longer period.

In gaining customer trust, it is important to understand that even if the company representative meets with one person from the customer’s business, the decision to enter into a business relationship would probably lie with a number of people. The solutions and suggestions offered by your company must be such that they would cater to the interests and preferences of all the decision makers. Even if catering to all the interests may not be possible, in order to gain the customer’s trust it would be necessary to help reach an agreement. The simple rule is that when trying to get people to become customers, it is imperative that your company shows its humane side – one that would convince people that they are interacting with someone who will understand them and keep their interests in the fore at all times. It is important to remember not to manipulate customers – either existing or prospective, since they would be able to see through ‘the act’ and it could lead them to distrust your company.

Gaining customer trust comes from displaying genuine interest in building a relationship with the customer. Your company should be able to show consistently to the customer that it can add value to the association and that it has commitment to learn more about them, with the aim of providing customized and value-added solutions that would solve their business issues and make life easier for them. In life situations too, when one shows a genuine desire to learn and know more about you, one is naturally drawn towards such a person. In business too, gaining customer trust would be easier by displaying commitment to understanding them. In all the methods to gain their trust, the one constant is remaining consistent in the efforts. Consistency makes for predictable behaviour and if the behaviour is positive, customers would be more likely to trust the relationship.

Post discussions with a prospective customer, if it becomes clear that the offerings of your company may not be the right fit for them, it would be best to tell them so. Trying to convince customers to believe otherwise would be a breach of trust, which could have serious repercussions. By being honest, the customer would know that your company has their best interest in mind and would do anything to gain their trust. One of the most crucial steps towards gaining customer trust is to always listen to them first – this is irrespective of the duration they may have been customers. By actively listening to them each time, they would feel more comfortable in having open discussions and dialogues with your company. In addition, this would also portray your company in a professional manner – one that is serious and committed towards customer service and caring for customers.

Many companies / brands offer free samples for their products, without attaching any conditions or requests for customer information. Not only does this behaviour exhibit confidence in the company’s products, it also tells customers that the company is willing to invest in them even before they decide to give their business. Make it simple and extremely easy for customers to connect with your company, when they do decide to engage in business. Ensure that they can reach your company via any channel of communication that they choose – email, social media, the website or any other – and make sure that they receive prompt and effective responses. This would show integrity and commitment, making it easier in gaining customer trust and in building a formidable reputation for your company as being one that sincerely cares about its customers.  Building on the trust, would be the fact that in case customers want to stop doing business, exiting the relationship should be as easy as getting in.

Even if customers begin to trust your company, it would be important to encourage them to consistently share their opinions, provide feedback and share their experiences with your company. The better you get at hearing what they have to say, the more they would be willing to share their positive experiences with others, which in turn is great publicity and advertisement for your company.

All the above may sound like a lot of work but without gaining customer trust, it would be impossible to attract or retain them and they would probably end up giving their business to someone else. Gaining customer trust, as mentioned, may not be easy but by consistent effort and a genuine desire in customers, it would be possible over time. When a company can provide customers peace of mind, they can be sure to have customers for life.

 

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