In business, it goes without saying that you must gain the trust of your customers. If the lifeblood of every business is its customers, then it follows that it is of highest importance that they feel comfortable and happy shopping with you! When was the last time you recommended a company that you didn’t like or trust?
I’ll tell you this much: there’s one company in particular that I personally go out of my way to tell people to avoid, and the reason is plain and simple: they completely failed at their job, lost my trust, and worse… they knew that I was very upset and did nothing at all to humanize the situation or attempt to gain my trust back. And I will never, ever forget it! No, there is no chance that I will single-handedly take them down any time soon, but I do steer business away from them at every opportunity, and will perhaps admit to deriving a bit of happiness in doing so!
And I’m not alone. A dissatisfied customer is 10 times more likely to leave a negative review than a satisfied customer a positive one.
And while we do talk to our friends about the places we love to frequent, we really do talk a lot about the places where the experience has been bad. And too many of these anecdotes floating around out there is the death knell for any business.
Amazon.com has made it a mission to be “The Most Customer-Centric Company In the World”, and if you’re doing business on the Amazon platform, you’d be wise to make it your mission too! (Well, maybe “The #2 Most Customer-Centric Company in the World”… because, you know…) There are some really simple ways that you can consistently gain the trust of your customers, and not surprisingly these simple actions also create a foundation for trust in many other areas of life. At the end of the day, I think a bit of trust and respect goes a long way… don’t you?
Be where you say you’re going to be
Have you ever gone to a restaurant, retail store or business only to find that they are not open yet? But the sign says they open at 10am, and it’s 10:25am! Where are they? This is a really subtle and yet powerful trust breaker. You had one job to do: open the store when the sign says you would. And you didn’t. It seems like a little thing, but it is not. People don’t like feeling like they missed the memo, and failing to open your store when you said you would, is a big deal.
Likewise, where e-commerce is concerned, if you state that your CS hours are M-F 8am-5pm CST, then be available during those times. There is no excuse not to be. Of course there are times when emergencies happen. But really, you must make every effort, every day, to be accessible to your customers when you say you will be.
Do what you say you’re going to do
Have you ever been told you’d be receiving a refund, and it didn’t happen? Or you won a free prize that never materialized?
Not doing what you said you would do, is a really easy way to break trust with your customer. If you said you would issue a refund, do it right now.
If you said you’d mail a free replacement because something happened to the first order, do it right now.
Do not put it on a list to do later. Do it right now.
This is a tenuous situation you’re in, and a lot like the keeping of regular hours, it might not seem like a big deal to you but it is in fact a huge deal. Do not ever make your customers have to come back to you for something you previously promised. They will not trust you again after that.
If you can’t be what you thought you could be for your customer, tell them immediately
As I mentioned previously, there are of course times when an emergency pops up, you can’t open the store on time, someone has to go to the ER, or your manager actually won’t approve that goodwill credit you thought you’d have no problem pushing through.
Tell the customer immediately. Get a sign on the door ASAP. Issue an apology. Contact regular customers directly.
Do not sweep it under the rug, do not ignore it, do not blame anyone at all. Simply level with them. People are surprisingly understanding, and by telling on yourself you actually take your power back. You own the mistake, and take responsibility for it. The customer will be hard-pressed not to respect that. And though this might not seem like it, it’s actually a great place to garner customer loyalty and trust.
Do not lie
It is always OK to say that you do not know the answer but that you will find it and get back to them. “I don’t know”, is a totally acceptable answer. Lying, however, is not ever acceptable. Making up an answer is also not acceptable. Saying you don’t know and not offering to follow up after having researched their question? You guessed it, also a big no-no!
There is nothing wrong with not knowing all the answers, but there is everything wrong with acting like you do. It’s only a matter of time before made up answers and failure to follow up will cost you the trust you depend on from your customers.
Make yourself accountable, and tell the world that you’re doing so
Put it all right there in your Mission Statement! Let them know in no uncertain terms that your intention is always to be forthright in your dealings, and to create happy customers. And then do it. Write specific, fair and concise Customer Service and Shipping policies, and post those things everywhere: on your website, your Amazon listings, in your email signature block.
Two things will happen with this: You will be trumpeting to the world that you are a well-established, well thought-out, trustworthy business with proper policies, and more fun than that: once you’ve set the rules properly you can go about breaking them in a way that makes your customers know you’re on their side.
When your customer knows exactly what your policy is, and can see that they are not entitled to free return shipping, but you can make an exception for them that they can plainly see is indeed an exception to your policy, that’s the kind of trust-building that gets you tagged in Happy Customer Facebook posts, believe that!
It takes years to build, seconds to break, and a lifetime to repair. Be sure you value the trust between you and your customers, and do everything you can to protect it, every time. It’s really worth it!