Relationship Advice: Why you Must Build Trust Before you Expect Customer Loyalty
Relationships matter. You can have the best product in the world, but it won’t sell if customers don’t believe you. Here’s a simple truth − customers don’t buy from people they don’t trust. But there’s a more inconvenient reality – losing customer trust can mean losing a customer forever.
A few years ago, a renowned global market research company Nielsen revealed in a report that 83% of customers would happily recommend a brand to others if they trusted it. And 82% of customers would become repeat users of a brand that they trusted. This insight is a revelation for two reasons. One, trust doesn’t just create customer loyalty; it also helps generate positive word-of-mouth. And second, you should never underestimate the power of loyal customers.
But why are so many brands concerned about customer loyalty? Here’s another interesting fact − returning customers spend approximately 31% more than new customers. Imagine the long-term cumulative impact returning customers can have on your business growth.
Customer loyalty is crucial for your brand’s long-term success. But it’s not something you can conjure through a set framework − it takes years to develop. However, there are some ways you can get there faster.
Have the difficult dialogs
As a business, you can’t please everyone. That’s simply the reality of running a company in the real world. Your customers understand that. Receiving and acknowledging negative feedback and reviews can sometimes do more good for your business than bad. Not concealing bad reviews can boost your brand’s credibility and remove the veneer of sanitized reality that other brands may be wearing. Brands should instead use the opportunity to show that you care about each one of your customers by responding to negative feedback. Imagine a review page with nothing but positive comments. This will simply lead your customers to assume that you are filtering out negative ones, which might be real. This can build distrust among your customers.
Certainty is reassuring. Customers like brands to provide an experience they can count on. They want to know that if you make a commitment, it will be honored. That’s perhaps the reason why Amazon has been so successful over the years. Customers know beforehand that they can be sure to receive a shipment on a promised delivery date. They want to know that the service they get will always be what they expect. Trusting customer support to be there and be helpful doesn’t come from a good product alone. It comes from being there with answers when your customers need you most, not once or twice, but every time a customer needs help. A customer may deal with different service representatives on different occasions. But they expect consistency in their helpfulness and enthusiasm. This is more about the culture and personality of the organization than the actual experience. Be predictable and consistent.
Encouraging your customers to leave reviews about your business shows that you are listening. It also helps you uncover areas in which your business can do better, improving your ability to meet your customer’s needs. You must make sure that the reviews are openly displayed. More importantly, the reviews must clearly offer constructive information—regardless of whether or not the review focused on a product or your service. The more reviews you have on your website, the more new customers will be encouraged to provide their reviews.
Be accountable for customer data
Brands must ask themselves if they can be trusted with the data they are using. A recent study found that 73% of consumers believe the use of their personal data is ‘out of control’. But what does customers’ definition of trust really mean? For most customers, trust simply entails keeping their data private and safe. Consumers understand that their data is out there, and it will be used by businesses in some fashion. However, unethical data practices can play a negative role. Using data to promote a product that may be of interest to customers is one thing, but declassifying key personal data should be out of bounds. Remember that customers are paying close attention, and they care.
Offer loyalty programs
Make sure you provide customers a reason to remain loyal by incentivizing them. Loyalty programs are highly effective in maintaining trust and building long-term loyalty among customers. As stated earlier, returning customers spend up to 30 percent more than new customers. By offering loyalty benefits to your existing customers, you are further strengthening their ties to your business and encouraging repeat purchases. Offering perks such as exclusive deals and special sales can play a big role here. You can try various programs and techniques to see what influences your customers the most.
Building trust and loyalty among customers takes time and patience. However, these five steps will get you started in the right direction. Remember that your customers simply want to feel heard and appreciated. They will always respond favorably if you treat them more like a friend. Show them that they are valued, and they will trust you and remain loyal to your brand.
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