10 ways multichannel companies can build trust with customers

Experts in ecommerce, security, marketing and customer service discuss the best ways to foster trust with your consumers – and build a loyal customer base.

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“Potential customers are going to seek reviews of your business, so display them clearly on your website,” says Ruben Mier, marketing director, HouseCall Pro, a SaaS platform for home service professionals. “Better yet, provide links to third-party review sites so that the legitimacy of your reviews never comes into question.”

And “don’t necessarily censor all bad reviews,” says Robert C. Johnson, CEO, TeamSupport, a provider of B2B customer support and help desk software. “Even though the review may be negative, it shows customers that your company is transparent and increases the credibility of your positive reviews.”  

6. Don’t email customers (existing and prospective ones) unless you have their permission to do so. “Only send marketing communications [materials or email] to people who have expressly asked to receive them,” says Geoff Alexander, president, iContact. “When someone signs up for your email list, they're essentially starting a dialogue with your business. And the simplest way you can demonstrate that yours is a brand to trust is to provide clarity from the beginning on what content you'll be sending them, and how often,” he explains. “But if you send a third-party email instead, [or give their information to a third-party marketer,] you [will] lose their trust.”

[ Related: 12 easy ways to lose your ecommerce customers ]

7. Engage customers on social media (by responding to questions/concerns there). To build trust with today’s consumers, especially millennial customers, companies “must have a strategy for responding to customers on social media,” says Nancy Collins, a group president within Xerox’s Commercial Business Group. “Invest in a strategy to monitor social channels – and respond almost immediately to requests, issues and positive (or negative) sentiments. This is a huge advantage in trust-building over those who haven’t yet embraced such strategies.”

[ Related: 10 Social Ecommerce Tools for Online Retailers ]

“Listening, engaging and acting upon [social media] posts helps to forge a strong relationship between a brand and consumer by showing that the business is actually invested in the consumers’ opinions,” adds Sara Spivey, CMO, Bazaarvoice.

8. Publish contact information (email address, phone number). “Peppering your site [not just your home page] with contact info for your service team shows customers you are there to help if they run into an issue,” says Angie Stocklin, cofounder & COO, One Click, an eyewear company.

Not publishing contact information, specifically a phone number and email address, makes prospective customers suspicious and question whether they can trust you.

9. Provide excellent customer service (across channels). “Go above and beyond in delivering excellent customer service,” says Hayden. “Our customers trust us to answer their questions and listen to their suggestions nearly instantaneously, because we offer live chat support. As a software provider, we staff engineers on our customer success team so that any glitches or issues can be solved immediately. Providing real solutions to problems along with friendly and helpful responses to inquiries delights our customers and becomes an aspect of our business that customers rave about in online reviews.”

And be sure to have knowledgeable people staffing your customer service phone lines, email address, live chat and social media channels – who will respond quickly to queries, comments and complaints.

10. Make the returns process simple/easy. “The return policy is a make or break for an ecommerce website,” says Lucarelli. “Offering a compelling [easy] return policy can give customers an extra feeling of comfort in making purchases. If a return is required, customers will appreciate avoiding the hassle of a difficult return policy. This turns the negative experience of making a return into a positive interaction with the company.  Customers will feel as if the company is looking out for them and not just trying to make a quick profit. This translates to higher customer lifetime value (CLV).”

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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