by Tom Egelhoff
One of the major challenges for new small businesses is business building. As your business grows you are constantly dealing with and building relationships with new customers.
In surveys I've seen, the biggest reason customers cite as the reason they shop where they do is because they felt a "trust and confidence" in that business.
In this article I'll show you six ways to build customer trust before that customer actually makes their first contact with you.
1. Stop being a cold impersonal business and start being a warm, personable small business.
Building the company name is one thing but bringing an actual personality to a business is another. All your ads should speak to one person not the huddled masses.
Use less "I" and "we" and more "you" and "yours." When you write your ad copy think of one customer you know and like; and talk to them as though you were face to face.
2. Be truthful.
By that I mean, don't tell just part of the truth in your ads. Nothing will upset a customer more than to see an ad for a product costing $49.95 only to discover, after the "fine print", its $149.95.
If there are additional enhancements that will make the product a better value then present them with the benefits that will display that value.
3. Some people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
It's one thing to be equal to or better than your competitor but it's an entirely different matter to sound like them in your advertising.
When you say, "Best service in town" that's just lip service. Best compared to what and who? Defined by what?
We have a furniture dealer that uses, "Low prices are born here and raised elsewhere." Sounds like a bumper sticker phrase. Cutesy but hardly builds trust and confidence in the business.
If you are going to talk about your business in slogan terms be clear in what you say.
"The number one seller of XYZ snowmobiles in the tri-state area" and cite the documentation for saying that.
4. Spell out your guarantee.
Build your reputation for standing behind what you do even when it sometimes costs you. You are probably familiar with Nordstrom's - the Seattle based clothing chain. They are famous for their customer service. There is the story of a woman trying to return a set of tires she was convinced she purchased at Nordstrom's.
Despite the fact that Nordstrom's doesn't sell tires, and never has, they took back the tires and cheerfully refunded the woman's money. Your word is your bond. Guarantee your work and stand behind it even if it hurts.
5. Make it easy for customers to complain.
Provide phone numbers, feedback email access and any other ways you can think of for customers to notify you when there is a problem.
The longer it takes to resolve a problem the more potential customers will hear about this particular customers dissatisfaction with your company.
6. Build on your successes.
Actively solicit testimonials from satisfied customers and display them where customers can easily see them. A car dealer here has testimonials inside plastic sheets in a nice binder in the customer waiting area.
While customers are waiting to pick up their vehicle they are put at ease by the positive statements that other customers have made about the dealership.
A car detailer I work with in Maryland takes a digital picture of each vehicle and e-mails it to the client. Ninety-nine percent of the time he receives an acknowledgement that turns into a testimonial.
The company name is important but putting a personal feeling on the business is never a bad idea.
Fortune 100 companies spend billions on image that is geared to creating trust and confidence in each company's brand name and products. Should you do less?