People won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Plain and simple.
If your work takes you to your customer’s homes – that’s some delicate territory. If you do commercial work, the stakes might even be higher.
Because of this, building trust with your prospects needs to be your primary focus.
Obviously, the best way to build trust is through a strong reputation and meaningful relationships cultivated over time. That’s the reason why referrals are some powerful – you can draw upon the credibility you’ve already built with an existing customer.
But more and more of your prospects are looking for you online these days. If a customer finds you online, is there a way you can set the ground work for that trust?
What makes a website credible?
The 5 Ways to Build Trust Online or
The Website Credibility Checklist:
1. Written Testimonials
The quickest way to build trust online is through written testimonials from your happy customers.
Nielson did a study on this and found that 68% of people trust online reviews these days (Source: Nielson). And that number appears to be increasing.
Credible websites use this to their advantage. You should collect as many written testimonials and reviews from your happy customers as possible and put them all over your website. Make it absolutely impossible for people to ignore your testimonials.
A note on this: people have a pretty sensitive BS meter. If they see a testimonial that looks even slightly fake, they will assume that it is.
To get past this, encourage your customers to leave your reviews in public places that can be verified. For example, it’s great to get reviews on Facebook, LinkedIn, or your Google+ page. Not only will you have a testimonial, but you’ll have the person’s face attached to it.
2. Borrow Credibility
One way to build credibility and trust is to align yourself with credible people or organizations.
Books do this all the time. If a book has made any “list” – right on the cover they’ll mention it: “New York Times Best Seller” or “Wall Street Journal Best Seller”. You can do a similar thing on your website.
A common way to borrow credibility is to become accredited by the Better Business Bureau. If you already have a rating – fantastic, you’re two steps ahead of the game.
Place the BBB logo on your website, with your rating, and make sure that it links back to your BBB page so people can verify your rating.
The same principle can be used with professional organizations like your local chamber of commerce or networking groups like LeTip or BNI.
You can also use the logos for any associations you’re affiliated with. Have you been “verified” by Angie’s List? That’s another logo you can use.
3. Good looking design
It takes a split second for someone to make an opinion about your company.
It’s actually 50 milliseconds, according to Taylor & Francis research.
That’s a blink of an eye.
The question is, what impression do people get in 0.05 seconds from your website?
Great web design is crucial in building trust online. Stanford University conducted research around credibility and found that, 75% of people make judgements about a company’s credibility based on website design.
You may have noticed that website design goes through trends over the years. The latest website trend is flat, minimalistic design.
Business owners should focus on results rather than design. After all, an impressive looking website is literally worthless if it doesn’t get you new business leads.
But there is a “minimum standard of excellence” you need to meet online (love that phrase!).
Your website, from a design perspective, must pass the sniff test. It doesn’t need to be a work of art – but in 0.05 seconds, someone should be able to tell that you have a professional, modern company.
Also check this interesting tool to to recommend the best PMS color matches for your logo and design.
4. Write a blog or monthly newsletter
Blogging can do wonders for your business for a ton of different reasons including cultivating trust and credibility.
Consider this story:
A few weeks ago I was looking to hire someone for a very specific technical task. There were literally hundreds of candidates for the job. To speed things up I did two things:
- Checked out reviews
- Checked out the peoples’ websites
Using reviews, I cut the list down to 5 candidates. And when I looked at one person’s blog and I knew immediately that I could trust him.
He was writing about his area of expertise for 3 years!
The terms he was throwing out were largely above my head – but I understood enough to know he was an expert and would do a great job.
I hired him immediately even though he was 2x more expensive than his competitors. By the way, he did an amazing job and was one of THE BEST contractors I’ve ever worked with (shout out to Mark, the Speed up WP expert).
Blog’s work so well because they make you the authority in your space.
If you’re the only one talking about new roofing technology in your area, you become the roofing technology expert by default.
The same is true for any other niche.
Blogs have three additional benefits:
- They walk people through your sales process (on auto-pilot)
- They give you content to email your customers
- They help you get better Google search results
5. Reputation Management
People trust online reviews more and more these days because NO ONE CAN HIDE in our digital world.
Think about this:
If your company seriously offends someone, that person is extremely likely to blast you all over the internet.
Here’s some research to back it up:
“a dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it. And approximately 13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people about their problem.” Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
With Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Home Advisor, etc. – it’s extremely easy for a customer to gripe to a large audience.
Because of this, you absolutely need to know what people are saying about you online.
These services make it easy for you to track what people say about you and to actively respond.
Even if your customers are angry today, you have an opportunity to resolve the issue.
According to Lee Resource Inc, 95% of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint instantly.
Imagine how great you’ll look in this very likely scenario:
1. An unhappy customer airs their frustration online
2. Immediately, on that same forum, you respond to the criticism in a professional manner and make an offer to fix the problem
3. The unhappy customer feels great! and expresses gratitude that you made things right
This type of exchange happens ALL THE TIME. And the best part is, it’s all on public record. You look like a hero and a huge audience will know how much you care about your customers.
That’s how effective reputation management works to cultivate trust.
How to build trust online?
Just like in the real world you have to earn it. That all boils down to customer service.
Your business must deliver on the big promises it makes. You must fix the problems that will inevitably come up. And you must over-communicate with your prospects and customers.
If you’re doing all those things correctly anyway, the tips in this article will certainly help you. You’ll easily collect great reviews, you’ll already have a wonderful BBB rating, and your online reputation will be stellar.
Marketing professionals have discovered straightforward steps to build trust online… but if you’re not doing right by your customers, no amount of online wizardry can help you.
And that’s a good thing.