Why is trust so important to a business?  You instinctively know the answer but here are two statistics to emphasize the importance of building trust.
“68% of adults in the U.S. say that trust in a brand has “a great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when making a big purchase.”1
“76% globally will always recommend a certain trusted brand if someone asks.”2 
Trust is a powerful element of your business and revenues. A customer’s trust in you and your business influences whether they will do business with you and if they will refer you.  Are you giving this your priority?
Four Factors Influencing Trust:
Businesses have been moving to more online communications long  before the pandemic, but now we are even more reliant on online interactions.  Face to face meetings are currently non-existent and may be for some time.  Video conferencing works well but it is hard to read body language.  So how do you build that trust with customers online?
Persona Global, a business consulting firm broke down business trust into four factors3:

  • Reliability
  • Openness
  • Acceptance
  • Congruence

Let’s look at each factor and how you can use them to build your online trust.

Reliability – Do what you say you will do, don’t overpromise, and meet your deadlines

We all have a friend or family member who is very reliable.  They will always be on time for appointments.  When they promise to do something before Friday, it is done by Thursday.  You trust them.  How did they gain your trust?  You looked at their past actions, listened to those who told you they were reliable, and measured them every time you needed them.
In business, reliability is built the same way.  Reliability as shown in consistent customer reviews that say, “She met all our deadlines” or “Matt promised a loan rate and he got it”.  It is also shown in your marketing messages.  If you state, “We will get you the best rate!”, your customer reviews should prove that point.

Openness – Tell the whole story, good and bad, be open to customer feedback, and vow to change if something went wrong.

Do you have an aunt that is way too open?  She will tell you everything about her life from why she hates tomatoes to how she massages her husband.  TMI lady.  However, because she is so very open, you probably trust her to tell you the truth.  If you ask her how your dress looks on you, you will get a direct, honest unfiltered opinion, good and bad.
We have a tendency in business to “Facebook” everything online by only showing the good reviews.  Be honest now, when you read a friend’s Facebook posts that are only rainbows and unicorns, you don’t really trust that their life is always so great.
Be open in your business dealings.  When a customer complains online about your service, reply and apologize for the experience online and say what you will do to change.  Be honest that we all have bad days and make mistakes.
“41% of consumers say that brands replying to reviews makes them believe the company really cares about their customers.”4

Acceptance – Treat people with respect, don’t make them feel stupid, and don’t use industry jargon they don’t understand.

When someone treats you with respect, you know it and respond in kind.  Ever been in a conversation where someone is talking in some jargon you don’t understand, and they never explain it.  You might think they are trying to fool you or make you feel stupid.  This is not a good way to treat someone and lowers your trust of them.  But, what if they explained what the jargon meant allowing you to participate in the conversation.  Would you respect and trust them then?
Putting a bunch of industry jargon on your website or marketing materials may make you sound smart but it may also alienate your customers who are not as deeply embedded in your industry.  Educate them on what an APR is, what liability coverage means, or what a 15/5 rate is.  Create acceptance and trust by explaining in layman’s terms your jargon and make sure your customers understand.

Congruence – Be straightforward and honest, say and do what you mean, create a win-win situation with your business and customers

Would you trust someone who always wants to win and thinks that for him to win, everyone has to lose?  Win at all costs.  You would not trust them with doing anything for you unless it benefited them.  Would you want to maintain a relationship with them?  The answer would be no.
Let’s take a customer interaction.  Suppose you needed to close a home loan in 2 months and the loan officer says, “No problem”, but she knows that they are backed up and cannot finish in two months.  She is not straightforward with you because she wants your business.  She wants to win and believes that you won’t leave to another broker in 2 months, which may be true.  After she closes that loan, do you think she is going to get a good review from you, get a chance for refinance, or get referrals?  Probably not.
What if she was honest upfront and tells you that, “I know you want to close in 2 months, but we are backed up and will need at least 3 months.  I want to be honest with you and you know we are the best.”  Do you think she would get your loan business?  Most likely and also get your referrals and recommendations.   She has built trust with you by being honest.
Being congruent builds trust.  Research shows that this straightforward and honest approach wins in the short and long term and leads to more business.
You probably are already building trust in your business using some of these factors but may not have considered how they work together to build overall trust in you and help your business grow.
The last thing to discuss is how you market your trusted business online and tell these stories.   The main tool is to ask for online reviews and post them everywhere someone is looking for your type of business, Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Yelp, LendingTree, Zillow, etc.  Make sure you are posting all reviews, good and bad, and responding to each review with heart and honesty.
So, when a new customer asks you, how do I know you will do a good job or can I trust you with my business, just say “Google me”.
1“SurveyMonkey Reveals New Research to Help Businesses Understand Consumer Perceptions on Trust”, SurveyMonkey, 2018.
2“Brand Trust Is Becoming More Important: Here Are Some Key Stats And Themes.” MarketingCharts, 2019.
3“4 Elements of Trust in Business.” Persona Global, 2018.
4“The Conversation Index, Vol 6,” BazaarVoice.

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