In a competitive marketplace, communicating with potential clients in ways that connect and engender confidence and assurance can be the value add that allows your business to stand out. In recent years, trust and transparency have become important ways in which businesses build lasting relationships with clients and customers, securing repeat business.
The old adage of “people buy from people” remains true, even in this age of digital and online sales.
As humans, we are drawn to people who are authentic and congruent. People who walk-the-walk, rather than just talk-the-talk. People with integrity. People we can trust and feel secure and safe with.
So, it’s a no-brainer that potential customers want to connect with and buy from businesses that are trustworthy and transparent. Businesses that have integrity.
In the 2019 Edelman Report, over two-thirds of people commented that while a good reputation may get them to try a product, unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying. And, in the same survey, the three factors of product experience, customer experience, and impact on society were identified as the most important reasons why customers trust a given brand.
So, communicating with openness and clarity on how your business delivers in terms of each of these factors has the potential to get you new customers. It’s something that the team at Super Cleaning Service Louisville has incorporated into our business model, processes, and communication at each stage of a customers’ journey with the brand.
In this post, let’s:
- Take a deep dive into why trustworthiness and transparency matter in business.
- Talk about how local businesses can build trust with customers through transparency.
- Consider four practical strategies you can implement to build trust through transparency and stand out in a competitive market.
Why Is It Important to Build Trust with Customers?
So, what’s the why? Why does building trust with customers through transparency matter so much? A complex question, but one that is timely and pressing in a world of shrinking economies, online reviews, and fake news.
In the 2019 Edelman Report, the primary reason that US consumers gave to explain why trusting a brand they buy from is becoming more important was that finances are tight and they cannot afford to waste any money on a bad purchase. They want to get it right the first time and invest in products they can trust to deliver, without catches, without hidden prices, without nasty surprises. Wary of inaccurate or misleading information online, customers want to be convinced that a product will deliver.
Of course, online reviews and testimonials provide endless data to consumers about previous customer’s experiences. This means the saying “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching” is now somewhat outdated.
Online reviews, forums, and social media mean someone is always watching and willing to share their experience with poor service or a disappointing product. All of this adds up to a marketplace where businesses can’t afford to be inauthentic or dishonest.
How to Build Trust with Your Customers
With that in mind, let’s look at four practical ways to implement processes and systems that model transparency and build trusting relationships with new and returning clients.
1. Know that trust starts with you.
Did you know that research has shown that oxytocin not only plays a fundamental role in developing human interpersonal relationships but also plays a role in building customers’ trust in brands and products? If you trust and believe in your own brand, you are more likely to release oxytocin, which in turn makes other people more likely to trust you. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Being authentic, reliable, open, and straightforward in what you say can help you to feel an increased sense of trust in your own product. That is then going to be reflected in your marketing messaging and interactions with employees and customers alike.
If you know that you and your business score highly in the three characteristics that people often use to evaluate trustworthiness (ability, benevolence, and integrity) then you are going to be in the best place possible to communicate that with employees and customers.
It starts with you.
A simple example of this would be in terms of supply chain and raw materials. Your website states that you source materials ethically and that you use high-quality, eco-sustainable suppliers and products. That’s more than words. You know and make it your business to find out about the integrity of your suppliers. You make it your business to source quality, sustainable products.
Your walk matches your talk, and you know this. You can hold your head high as you communicate it with passion and integrity. Your passion becomes your customers’ sense of security and keeps them loyal.
2. Build transparency into your website design.
Customers want clear and transparent information that communicates the facts, details, and evidence that your business is trustworthy. That’s especially important within the home services vertical, as customers need to trust businesses to enter their most private of spaces.
Transparency around services, pricing, and systems and processes can make a real difference to a consumer’s sense of security and trust when they first check out your website. For example, being clear and transparent about the processes in recruiting and completing background checks on employees matters. Transparency around pricing is also essential. If a customer visits your website and can’t get a clear, straight, understandable answer as to how much it will cost for their specific needs, then they can’t get the information they need to trust you.
Not all companies and businesses are wise to this one. Perhaps that’s based on a mistaken idea that consumers will tolerate the frustration of add-ons and additional charges so long as they know the basic rate, or that keeping prices a closely guarded secret will prompt potential clients to make contact and inquire. We have found that a no-nonsense, up-front quote where all charges are intuitively and clearly outlined fully with no surprises pays dividends in fostering trust and transparency.
Consider, also, communicating your human side and show how you are relatable as a business. Photos of key employees and behind-the-scenes footage can be a helpful addition to a transparent website. Build such transparency into your website from the word go.
3. Make social proof work for you and your clients.
Reviews and ratings are the new word of mouth marketing. Real testimonials from real clients can really help towards transparency. Ask for reviews. If you know you can trust your business model and processes, you know you can rely on positive reviews most of the time.
And, for the odd bad review that indicates some room for improvement, you have a chance to communicate to customers that you value feedback and don’t seek to hide or delete real testimonials.
Make it your business to respond to all reviews. And, implement systems asking customers for reviews. Our operations staff asks for ratings and reviews after each job is completed. Such reviews convey transparency and contribute to setting customers’ minds at ease – they know their opinion matters and will be listened to.
4. Establish open and clear communication for true transparency.
We’ve covered how your website and your responses to reviews and ratings can be part of transparent communication to build trust. These methods of communication should be part of a wider communication system that makes it simple and straightforward for customers to make contact.
Make sure contact information is easy to access and ensure that inquiries and communication are dealt with promptly. Automation can be part of the solution here – our team has implemented an automated email system that sends customers multiple emails with reminders and outlines of the bookings including date and time, cost, and the services they selected. That’s combined with the personal touch of text contact both before and after service to make sure everything went well. Any concerns are dealt with promptly through open, non-defensive, and full communication to address the issue.
Somewhat appropriately for the home services market, nothing is ever ignored or swept under the rug.
Building a Trustworthy & Transparent Business
So, to become the sort of business that secures and retains loyal customers, it makes sound business sense to foster trust and transparency. Become the business that people emotionally invest in by trusting you time and time again to deliver a quality service with excellent, honest, and straightforward customer service.
Remember, in building trust and transparency:
- It starts with you.
- Build transparency into your website design.
- Make social proof work for you and your customers.
- Establish clear communication for true transparency.
About the Author
Kevin O’Keeffe hails from Ireland where he was awarded his B.E. in Chemical Engineering before emigrating to the US and studying business at the University of Notre Dame. He is currently co-founder of an expanding string of local service companies throughout the Midwest, leveraging technology to connect high-end cleaning service providers with consumers.